Biking and Erectile Dysfunction: A Real Risk?
Some experts say ED may be an unwelcome side effect of bicycle riding.
The 'No-Nose' Seat continued...
"I wouldn't tell anyone to give up cycling because of fear of ED. If
there is ED from cycling, it's almost always temporary and reversible. Other
causes of ED, such as hypertension and diabetes -- the No. 1and No. 2 causes of
ED -- tend to be fairly permanent. If there are problems, they're usually
treatable with proper bike fit and bike seat selection."
A proper-fitting bicycle can help prevent these injuries; appropriate frame
size, handlebar height, and seat position are all important. A rider may
consider changing the angle of the seat, which should be angled parallel to the
ground or slightly forward, to help alleviate pressure on the perineum. Wider
seats or those designed with a central cutout also help reduce perineal
pressure and can help redistribute weight.
A change in riding style may also help reduce pressure. Standing on the
pedals during long rides can prevent pressure and help re-establish blood
Police Bike Patrol Study
Some new saddle designs take the weight off the perineum, according to
Steven Schrader, PhD, of the National Institute for Occupational Safety &
Health (NIOSH). Schrader triggered an explosion of research on the link between
cycling and ED in 2002 when he published a study involving members of a police
bicycle patrol. He found that the more hours the officers spent in the saddle,
the more likely they were to experience a decrease in the quality of nighttime
All this research spurred the development of several no-nose bicycle seats,
and Schrader has tested several.
"We recruited police officers and gave them no-nose seats to use for six
months," Schrader says. "We're still doing data analysis, but the
striking thing is that of the 91 men who completed the study, only three had
returned to a traditional saddle. When we went back and found those three guys,
two of them said their saddle had broken and they wanted a new one. Only one
said he didn't like it."
No-nose seats have a wide rear that distributes the rider's weight on his
sit bones on the buttocks. One study in Germany found that oxygen levels in
blood flow to the penis dropped by only about 20% when riders were on a no-nose
seat. A traditional bicycle saddle reduces oxygen in blood flow by around