impotence

I’ve read a bit about this, so I’ll pass along what I remember.

I think it was sometime last year that Bicycling Magazine published an article
that reported on the findings by a well known doctor who specializes in treating
impotence. His premise is that cyclists are especially susceptible to permanent
damage to the penile artery due to the pressure put on it by the saddle. This
report included some very scary case reports and was also printed in conjunction
with an article by one of Bicycling’s long-time regular feature writers, Ed
Pavelka. Ed reported that he in fact is afflicted with impotence and blames it
on years of cycling. I seem to recall that he has done several RAAM’s and rides
tens of thousands of miles per year. Last I heard, he now rides a 'bent. (BTW I
still have this issue. If anyone is interested I can dig it out and send you a
copy or tell you the publication date).

This story was then picked up by 20/20 and has been on TV several times. I have
also seen it reported on local News-magazines.

If you open up Bicycling Magazine these days you will find half a dozen ads for
some pretty strange looking saddles with holes, hinges, and padding designed to
keep pressure off the critical area. Most of it looks like junk.

Many cyclists (including me) have experienced penile numbness at times during a
ride. This should be taken seriously. Changes to the saddle angle, raising the
bars, and switching to a harder saddle (like a Brooks leather saddle) can
eliminate the problem. I do believe that ignoring the problem could lead to
permanent damage. However, as one person aptly pointed out; if riding a bicycle
causes impotence, why is there a population problem in China?

One would think that a unicycle would be especially dangerous, because nearly
all of your weight is on the seat, but I have never noticed any numbness while
riding mine. Then again, I am not sitting on it for 2-4 hours at a stretch as I
often do on my road bike. It could also be that the angle in which the seat
makes contact with your body is much “kinder” than what would be experienced
while riding a dualie, esp. a road bike. Unicyclists sit a lot more upright.

I don’t have any advice for unicyclists that may be getting the “numbies” other
than to take it seriously and make some changes to your seat or position to
eliminate it.

-Rick

RE: impotence

Rick wrote:

> If you open up Bicycling Magazine these days you will find half a dozen ads
> for some pretty strange looking saddles with holes, hinges, and padding
> designed to keep pressure off the critical area. Most of it looks like junk.

BICYCLING’s Technical Editor Jim Langley spoke at a recent meeting of the
Sacramento Wheelmen (road riders club). He brought some samples of goofy
products that are sent in for review. One was a mt. bike saddle that pops up &
forward about 2 inches at the flip of a switch. This was supposedly to change
the rider’s seating position (we thought it was for a James Bond movie). He also
brought a 100 year old saddle with a hole in the middle. I bought a women’s seat
for my girlfriend’s bike a few years ago, also with a hole in the middle. I
don’t remember the brand. So the comfort idea has been around for a long time,
but the medical studies are more recent.

Jim was a cool guy, and he lives in Santa Cruz. We try to invite him to the MUni
Weekend there next year!

Specialized is now advertising a very cool looking road saddle that’s built
directly to address the male anatomy problem. Basically it removes contact from
the center of the crotch and provides good support for the sit bones.

Unicycle seats tend to be round on top, and so put more pressure in the middle
than you would want (this is basically true for both men and women, by the way).
My Miyata seats especially had the problem because I used to add extra padding
in them. Otherwise they are flat across the top, but not as comfortable.

> Many cyclists (including me) have experienced penile numbness at times during
> a ride. This should be taken seriously.

In my early days of riding I had some very memorable experiences that went
beyond numbness. Without going into detail, urination was a big problem for a
few hours. This happened to me especially after a 5 mile ride I did in my first
few weeks of riding (on 20" wheeled Schwinns in 1979). The second time it
happened was in my first March of Dimes Superide, a 75 km fund raiser in which
Bradley Bradley and I rode geared-up Schwinn Giraffes. Of course neither of us
had ever ridden nearly that far in a day. Ouch!

> However, as one person aptly pointed out; if riding a bicycle causes
> impotence, why is there a population problem in China?

Chinese bikes have wide seats, are ridden slowly in an upright position, and are
usually only used to get from here to there, not for hours of training at a
time. You asked :slight_smile:

> One would think that a unicycle would be especially dangerous, because nearly
> all of your weight is on the seat, but I have never noticed any numbness while
> riding mine. Then again, I am not sitting on it for 2-4 hours at a stretch as
> I often do on my road bike.

True. For most of us, we’re just not putting in the kind of hours that would
lead us to problems.

> It could also be that the angle in which the seat makes contact with your body
> is much “kinder” than what would be experienced while riding a dualie, esp. a
> road bike. Unicyclists sit a lot more upright.

This is also true, but at the same time we have about 100% of our weight on the
saddle while a road cyclist, properly positioned on the bike, has only about 60%
(40% is being borne by the handlebars). So it may be likely that we are less
exposed to the impotency problem (due to a different pelvic angle), but we are
definitely exposed to more of a general comfort problem.

Many riders complain of saddle soreness. Then you look at the rider and see
that they’re riding in a pair of jeans. Most jeans put big fat seams right
where your weight bears down on the seat. On many pairs, there’s a thick
“super-joint” of seams that meets right in the middle of the saddle, under your
soft tissues. Then, if you’re wearing brief style underwear under that, you’re
adding another set of seams that are crossing the seams in the jeans and
creating more pressure points.

Get a pair of cycling shorts. Remember, they’re designed to be worn without
underwear. If you don’t like the look of lycra, there are plenty of styles that
use “normal” fabrics on the outside while still having the padded crotch and
seams in sensible places.

But what if you already have cycling shorts and you’re still experiencing
problems? If you ride a lot, you’re guaranteed to be putting lots of wear & tear
on the old crotch. The best solution I’ve found so far is the air seat. Take the
foam out of your seat and replace it with a 12" inner tube. Run the valve out
the bottom of the seat (to prevent derision from all your friends). This is easy
to do on Semcycle, old style Schwinn, or Miyata seats. Other brands or types may
not have removable foam. Don’t pump it up too much, and enjoy the long rides!

Stay on top,

John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone http://www.calweb.com/~unifoss/

Coming soon, unicycling.com!

Re: impotence

This is another good reason to use an “air saddle”. Take an innertube (I have
used 16" and 20" and either works), and use it to replace all of the padding in
your Miyata seat. I drilled a hole for the stem to point down throught the seat
bottom, and I used a cardboard liner over the metal to help prevent blowouts.

Try different air pressures–the comfort will surprise you.

David Maxfield Seattle

Re: impotence

In a message dated 11/20/98 4:19:13 PM Pacific Standard Time,
MaxfieldD@aol.com writes:

<< This is another good reason to use an “air saddle”. Take an innertube (I have
used 16" and 20" and either works), and use it to replace all of the padding in
your Miyata seat. >>

Try the innertube from a rider mower / garden tractor. It is much wider and
shorter and fits well inside the seat cover. Also the stem is bent at a 45
degree angle and fits nicely under the seat. Less than $5 US at your local
hardware store.

-Mike UniChef@aol.com http://members.aol.com/UniChef/unichef.html

Re: impotence

rick@tridelta.com (Rick Bissell) writes:

> One would think that a unicycle would be especially dangerous, because nearly
> all of your weight is on the seat, but I have never noticed any numbness while
> riding mine.

I have. Not often, but on a few occasions, and some of those times I was
wearing proper attire (cycling shorts). I just stand up a bit and take some
of the weight off, or take a short break, and circulation gets going again
pretty quickly.

One of these days I’ll airify my seat, but I’m leery of screwing it up and being
without a seat for a while.