By Laura Shin
Posting in Cities
Bikes are fun, but bike saddles? Not so much. A new study shows that riding on regular saddles harms sexual health not just in men, but women too.
It's long been known that bike saddles, which put pressure on sensitive areas of the body, can harm the sexual performance of men, but cycling's effect on the female anatomy was less well-known.
A new study at Yale, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, shows that riding bikes decreases women's sexual sensation.
The theory behind the connection is that riding on a bike saddle places a lot of pressure on the nerves and blood vessels in the genital area -- and it turns out this happens whether you are man or woman.
The study builds on a 2006 study at Yale that showed, compared to female runners, female cyclists had less genital sensation.
The latest study looked specifically at what about bikes affect soreness and numbness in women. The participants were 48 female bike riders who cycled at least 10 miles a week, though many biked much more.
The riders brought to the lab their own bikes, which were then mounted onto a stationary machine. The subjects were hooked up to a device that measured sensation in the pelvic floor, and they then rode on the bikes while reporting on feelings of numbness, soreness and tingling.
The main finding was that the lower the handlebars, the more physical effects the women experienced, likely because low handlebars required the women to lean forward, which in turn put more pressure on the perineum, which is made of soft tissue. The problem was most likely to occur when the rider assumed an aerodynamic racing position in which she leaned far forward with her back flat.
“We’re basically showing that there may be modifiable risk factors associated with female riders,” Dr. Marsha K. Guess, an author of the study and an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the Yale School of Medicine, told The New York Times. “This better positions us to educate riders on safe riding practices that may actually be beneficial to reduction of pressure and lost sensation in the pelvic floor.”
In addition to raising handlebars, no-nose bike saddles (which you can see pictured here) also alleviate or eliminate the problem. Such bike saddles, in which the rider rests only on the pelvic "sit" bones, don't require the rider to put any pressure on the perineum. As Dr. Steven M. Schrader, who pioneered the use of no-nose bike saddles for men, believes they would also help women. As he explained the The Times, “If you don’t put weight there,” he said, “there’s no pressure.”
Related on SmartPlanet:
- The no-nose bike saddle faces a marketing problem
- Wearing high heels alters one's barefoot gait, study says
via: The New York Times
Apr 4, 2012
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When I was about 10 years old, in 1935, I remember seeing a girls bike with a seat manufactured to relieve the pressure on the genitals. It had a depressed area, roughly diamond shaped, about 5 inches long by 1.5 inches at the widest point, about a half-inch deep with vertical sides. It was obviously not home-made. Somebody was thinking about this problem eighty years ago. Earlyrider
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She can become pregnant without any sensitivity. Only the male's sensitivity is himportant. Is this not the "HIslamic" way?
Out of all the women tested, how many were properly fitted by a shop? Answer, all of those with pain and sensitivity issues were not properly fitted. A proper fit, nose-less or traditional saddle, is a key factor to comfort. Also, the appropriate saddle to riding position is important. In other words, a wide soft saddle causes problems when used on a "traditional" road bike. WSD saddles also help with fit, but are not always needed. This article sounds a lot like the old belief that cycling caused prostate problems and impotence in men, which is not really true. In my not so humble opinion, a recumbent is best for people with back issues or someone who wants to go really, really fast on a really, really flat road.
Recumbent bikes solve the problem for both sexes - NO pressure on the perineum. They were invented back in the 1920's, but the French Cycling federation outlawed them for bicycle racing, and that put a damper on their sales and use everywhere. They are now a boutique item, available mainly in specialty bike shops and online. A couple of sites with that are comfortable - www.easyracers.com and www.terratrikes.com. Easy racers come in 2 wheel and 3 wheel models (my wife and I have 2 wheelers) and TerraTrikes are all 3 wheelers. They are much more comfortable -the riding position is more like driviing a car - easier on your neck, back, and seat area. Try one!
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...if these are "new" findings then our grand parents must have been light years ahead... On the lighter side, why not transpose the handle bars with the seat? At least some fun could be had LOL
Using public mass transportation save gas, reduce so much stress, read books on the way home on iPAD, taking a nap, cut down transport time, less maintenance cost, and improve our health greatly. We sold our extra car, cut down insurance, and save money. Most important of all, nice walk to and from public station was inconvenient at first but turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We used to fight for parking spot, tickets, and traffic congestion. Now we can ride our bikes around home whenever we possibly can: supermarket, library,movies rental, etc. Now we only have one car. More saving in the banks. 10-20 minutes bike rides are pleasant experience. We were fat and slow. Now we enjoy life much more and keeping weight under control in return. I was sweat like crazy with heavy breathing at first. There are many more benefits. So far we have more time in bed with lasting pleasure from all the nice excersise and stress free. Note: Politicans are fighting like roaches about extending railways and bike lanes. They wasted so much time and funding seems to disappear. We vote our heart out.
Because scientific theory is based on the weight of evidence there are over 70 scientific studies looking at the effects of body weight on the perineum of cyclists using a saddle with a protruding nose. This is just the latest publication and one of a dozen or so looking at women. All of the research that has been published in medical/scientific journals clearly demonstrates the rider in an upright position puts about 25% of their body weight on the saddle nose. As the rider leans forward and off of the sit bones the weight on this soft tissue can increased to over 50% of body weight. In women, this is her genitals. A quick look at any anatomy book will show that there extensive blood vessels and nerves in this area. This area was not made to bear weight and the saddle nose compresses these vessels and nerves restricting blood supply and nerve function. Repeated compression can lead to more damage including the loss of sensation. Noseless saddles do not put pressure on the soft tissue and there is no compression of blood vessels or nerves. Those are the facts, not some opinion. There are many noseless saddles on the market (mostly one the internet http://www.healthycycling.org ). Some designs allow the rider to get into aero position. Also, the idea that you cannot control the bike is clearly not the case ??? as this video shows http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEzfgS36eEE .
When I was selling bicycles in the late 70's, someone had come out with a wide seat for women. They were ahead of their time and we never sold any, but they might sell better today.
It's great that the Yale researchers are looking at issues specific to women. However, the women they studied in this and the previous research were 48 competitive cyclists. For those of us doing recreational and city cycling, there are ways to avoid any lost of 'genital sensation' and many women riding may never have any. Get fitted! Is the answer. And you don't have to be getting a new bike to be fitted to your bike. Since men have dominated the bike lanes and world for so long, it is important to find a bike fitter that has some experience. Here's my post about it through my blog www.girlsonbikes.org
Wasn't this article already published some time ago? And that includes the link to a "noseless" bike saddle. Years ago I converted my "classic" narrow awful bicycle saddle to a much more comfortalble flatter & wider design. Ahhh... Terry Thomas... the photographer Atlanta, Georgia USA
Hi Terry, The "old" article you refer to was about men's health (it's the one linked to up above). This study is new in that it focuses on female bike riders. Laura