Herpes, numbness, erectile dysfunction: Cyclists bare all on uncomfortable issues 'down there'

Long spells in the saddle can put our nether regions in jeopardy – but most of the risks can be prevented or at least managed. Chris Marshall-Bell tackles the taboo

A man covering his genitals with his hands
(Image credit: Future)

This article was originally published in Cycling Weekly's print edition as part of the WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT series tackling taboos and raising awareness of cycling-related health issues.  

"It completely freaked me out,” says Sam Ford. “I’m young, I’m fit and healthy, I shouldn’t be getting erectile dysfunction (ED). Aches and pains are associated with sport and especially cycling, but getting two bouts of ED was like, ‘what the f**k is going on here’ – I panicked.” 

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Chris Marshall-Bell

A freelance sports journalist and podcaster, you'll mostly find Chris's byline attached to news scoops, profile interviews and long reads across a variety of different publications. He has been writing regularly for Cycling Weekly since 2013. In 2024 he released a seven-part podcast documentary, Ghost in the Machine, about motor doping in cycling.

Previously a ski, hiking and cycling guide in the Canadian Rockies and Spanish Pyrenees, he almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains. He lives in Valencia, Spain.