Your Bicycle Seat May Be Deleterious To Your Sexual Health
A middle age bike rider, who was perfectly potent, noted that his penis went numb at the end of a two-day, 200-mile charity ride. The numbness continued for nearly six months and was accompanied by the inability to achieve an erection adequate for sexual intimacy or impotence. After a work-up revealed arterial damage at the base of the shaft of the penis, his potency returned after treatments that increased the blood supply to his penis.
To understand the relationship between bicycle seats and impotence, you need to know a few things about the male anatomy. The penis is a hydraulic system. During sexual stimulation, its twin chambers fill with blood until it’s firm and erect. After stimulation ends or there's ejaculation, the blood leaves and the penis softens again. The trigger for this increased blood flow is nerve impulses that originate in the brain and race down the spinal cord to the penis.
When you're riding a bicycle, your weight is being focused on the perineum, the area between the rectum and the scrotum, and that's where the arteries and nerves that feed the penis are located. Since the arteries are essentially unprotected, they're prone to damage from constant pressure from the bike seat. When a man sits on a bicycle seat he's putting his entire body weight on the artery that supplies the penis.
There are a number of things you can do to protect your potency:
• Penile numbness and excessive genital shrinkage are warning signs that there may be too much pressure on your perineum. The nerves in the perineum are being pinched, which means the artery that feeds the penis is also being compressed.
• Make the following changes in your riding style and/or your positioning on the bike: 1) Make sure your saddle is level, or point the nose a few degrees downward. 2) Check to see that your legs are not fully extended at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Your knees should be slightly bent to support more of your weight. 3) Stand up every 10 minutes or so to encourage blood flow.
• There are a multitude of anatomic racing saddles on the market, ranging from ones with a flexible nose to models with a hole in the middle. You may want to experiment with a wider, more heavily padded brand or a “double bun seat” that places the weight on the bones and off of the perineum.
• Heavier riders may be more at risk of arterial compression damage because of the greater weight that's placed on the perineum. If you're in this category, you should consider a wider saddle with extra padding.
• When riding a stationary bike, the tendency is to stay seated and grind against big gears for long periods. Get off of the seat as frequently as you would on your regular bike and be certain that it's set up the same in regards to riding position.
• Get off of the seat when riding over rough or irregular terrain. Use your legs as shock absorbers.
Bottom Line: Most men are not aware of the relationship between their bike and their erections. My final advice for good health is that men shouldn’t necessarily ride farther but ride a lot smarter.
Dr. Neil Baum is a physician in New Orleans and can be reached at (504) 891-8454 or via his website www.neilbaum.com