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Can Bicycle Seats Cause Erectile Dysfunction and Impotence?

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2011-11-06 08:28

Study explores erectile dysfunction from bicycle seats

The question of whether bicycle seats can cause erectile dysfunction and/or impotence is currently still an unresolved problem. A recent study in progress is taking a biophysical approach to the question of bicycle seats and erectile dysfunction by measuring the pressure on the artery that supplies blood to the penis. Wearing a special pressure sensor in their riding shorts and a portable monitor in a backpack, participants in the study are measuring the degree to which blood vessels connected to the penis are impacted and whether there is a direct correlation between bicycle seat design and erectile dysfunction and impotence.

Erectile dysfunction is a serious problem for many men as they age and develop health issues that can affect sexual performance. A diagnosis of erectile dysfunction is typically made when a man is unable to maintain a firm erection throughout sexual intercourse. Although the term impotence is generally interchangeably used with erectile dysfunction, technically, impotence has more to do with reproductive success than sexual performance.

According to medical studies, 70 percent of the cases of erectile dysfunction are due to medical disease such as obesity, diabetes and vascular disease. Physical trauma that damages the blood vessels and nerves that are part of penile physiology, however, can also lead to temporary and possibly permanent erectile dysfunction.

One of the earliest signs that a male bicycle rider may be experiencing trauma to the nerves or blood vessels connected to his penis is a tingling sensation at the end of his penis and/or a numbness of the perineum where direct contact is made with a bicycle seat. Prolonged and/or numerous periods of riding a bicycle can cause constant swelling of the tissues surrounding the nerves and blood vessels resulting in temporary erectile difficulties and a feeling of discomfort “down there.” However, normal sensation and function generally return after a period of rest.

Part of the difficulty with clearly attributing erectile dysfunction with bicycle seat design is that the riders themselves often report conflicting experiences with a variety of bicycle seats and riding styles. For example, a trained cyclist who puts in hundreds of miles weekly and rides a narrow, hard seat may never experience numbness and tingling because the majority of his pedaling forces are concentrated on the pedal and not the seat. An amateur level cyclist with the same seat or one that is more cushioned, however, may experience just the opposite after a few miles.

To address the actual physiology between a rider’s groin and bicycle seats, researchers from the University of Chicago, Illinois have devised a special sensor array that fits in the crotch of riding shorts that is attached to a backpack-outfitted monitoring system. The goal of the study is to determine whether the blood flow to the penis is cut off by the pressure between the riders groin and a bicycle seat.

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Comments

"Until research can fully explain the potential connection between bicycle seats and erectile dysfunction and impotence..." I would add "...or rule out a connection." Science works best if it doesn't start with assumptions. Also, keep your weight on your butt bones. The nose of the saddle is a bad place to sit.
I think this is pretty important. It makes sense physiologically that this could happen. Women's study show it's possible to damage the pudenal nerve on bicycle seats.
Huh? i didn't know that bike seats have a pudenal nerve--learning something new every day. ; ^ )
Well, we are a high tech society...
It's also possible to fracture a finger bone in a car door, but that does not prove it's the fault of car door design. I agree it's important to investigate, but assuming a casual connection from the beginning is not scientific. Riders need to be educated about how to sit properly, and how to choose a saddle with the right width for their butt bones.
Did other sources say this does cause ED? Yes, I'm sure education is important and probably neglected.
I was warned early on in my cycling career of these risk of ED. I chose to believe the naysayers such as the ones above. I now have bike seat induced ED despite being young and in perfect health otherwise. This is the biggest loss of my life. I cannot believe I pushed through despite the warnings. The current bike seat us an 1800s design. It can and WILL cause you erectile dysfunction.

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