Bicycling is both a great form of cardiovascular exercise and an excellent way to experience the great outdoors, however there is research to indicate that sitting on standard bicycle saddles can negatively affect reproductive health, especially in men.
Men who ride a bicycle with a standard saddle face the threat of the main artery and vital nerves that lead to the penis being compressed. Those who ride a bike three or more times a week on average are at a higher risk for reproductive problems including numbness, pain, and the ability to achieve an erection than are men who do not regularly ride bicycles as the pressure put on this area of their body over a period of time can cause injury to the arteries and nerves. The reason this happens is because when a male cyclist sits on the typical bicycle seat, a significant amount of his body weight is placed on his perineum (the area between the anus and scrotum where the arteries and nerves that go to the penis) pass.
While the effects of bicycle saddles on female riders has not been studied near as much as the effects on male riders, the same arteries and nerves swell up the clitoris during sexual intercourse and cause sexual pleasure. Women cyclists, due to reduced blood flow from putting too much pressure on this area of their body when bicycling, likely suffer the same injuries as men and may find it more difficult than before to experience intense sexual pleasure and to achieve an orgasm during sexual intercourse.
Certain types of saddles are more damaging than others, researchers say. However, even ergonomic seats, which are supposedly specifically designed to protect the sex organs, can be harmful, according to current research. In a directly worded editorial with the articles, Dr. Steven Schrader, a reproductive health expert who specifically studies cycling, said that it is his belief that it is no longer a question of “whether or not bicycle riding on a saddle causes erectile dysfunction. “Instead, he said, “The question is, What can we do about it?”
There are ways to help prevent serious damage to the reproductive system when cycling, however these are only suggestions and have not been proven to absolutely keep a biker from injury. These ways include the following, align the bike saddle horizontally with the bike saddle only slightly raised, stand up while pedaling occasionally, especially when going uphill or when accelerating, lean forward on the saddle less and opt for correct posture on the saddle instead and adjust seating position from time to time so more than just one part of the body are subjected to pressure while riding.
Bicycling is great exercise and an excellent way to either get in shape or stay in shape while enjoying the beauty of the great outdoors, however it is vitally important that all riders are aware of the potential danger to their reproductive health that is possible to occur from bicycling, especially several times a week over a long period of time.