Monday, April 23, 2007

Bicycling and ED

I've never liked bicycle seats, and now my worst fears have been confirmed:
When urologist Dr. Irwin Goldstein declared in 1997: "There are only two kinds of male cyclists -- those who are impotent and those who will be impotent," many bike riders scoffed. Saying the equipment housed in their spandex shorts worked just fine, they optimistically kept riding. Several prominent urologists dismissed Goldstein's claims, saying that they were based on a small sample of riders and that the cardiovascular benefits of cycling outweighed any risk of impotence.

Ten years later, more than two dozen published studies, including several by Goldstein, have confirmed the connection between cycling and sexual dysfunction. Problems can range from impotence -- the complete inability to penetrate -- to an erection that doesn't last as long as desired.
The data seem slight, but then, any harm to "Mr. Microphone" might be significant:
Not all male riders, or even the majority of male bicyclists, are likely to experience erectile dysfunction. A study presented to the American Urological Association in 1997 found that 4.2 percent of cyclists had moderate to complete ED, compared with 1.1 percent of runners. That study compared 738 male riders from a Boston cycling club with an age-matched control group of runners. A second study, presented to the association the following year comparing cyclists and swimmers, found that 4 percent of cyclists had ED compared with 2 percent of swimmers.

Older bicyclists and those riding long distances tend to have an increased risk. And yet another study, published in the International Journal of Impotence Research in 2001, found that men who rode for less than three hours a week decreased their risk of ED, compared with non-cyclists, possibly because of the benefits to the cardiovascular system. But the same research found that cycling more than three hours a week nearly doubled the risk of ED, compared with non-cyclists.
How to fix this? Seems a seat without a nose might be best:
Dr. Roger Minkow, a specialist in ergonomics, said that a properly designed and fitted bike seat with a nose can work as well as noseless saddles in avoiding erectile problems without sacrificing control and safety on the bike. Minkow, who has developed pilot seats for United Airlines and training equipment for the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team, was hired in 1997 by Specialized Bicycle Components to design a new line of bicycle seats.

Testing showed that the modified saddles allowed blood flow up to about 70 percent of normal in an upright position and 60 percent in a forward position. Some other saddles tested had flows less than 2 percent of normal. Minkow said that flows of more than 50 percent should be enough to prevent ED problems.
So guys, ride carefully out there, and have a great Summer!


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