A recurring issue in this forum is the crotch-seat interface, especially for males. Speaking for myself, when sitting on a unicycle seat for a long time, say an hour, my external reproductive organs turn totally numb. I guess you must know the feeling, or rather the lack of it. When I take a 10 minute break everything is back to normal, except that after such a break the same effect is produced by only a half hour ride. In addition to numbness, another effect is smallness. I experience no pain at any time. Neither have I ever experienced any lasting effect.
The way it is I can stand the discomfort and so I don’t bother too much. I consider it a fact of unicycling life. But recently someone (a fellow unicyclist) said to me that the numbness can have very bad consequences. He added that I should definitely do something different than just tolerate the numb feeling, let alone train to ‘harden’ my crotch. Like taking more frequent breaks, periodically stand up on the pedals, etc.
So, what kind of bad consequences from repeated ‘total’ penile numbness from unicycling should I fear? Does it matter how often or how ‘deep’ the numbness occurs (is provoked)?
Try getting a more flat saddle. Maybe tilt it forward a little bit more so most of your weight is supported on your ass. Maybe take a knife to the saddle foam? If you have an airsaddle maybe thats the problem, they put pressure everywhere vs. foam which puts the pressure on more a concentrated spot.
I find my perineum (i.e. the bit between your anus and your genitals) feels like its numb or at least reduced in bloodflow after a while of putting pressure on it riding. I don’t like this sensation and try to avoid it by taking care with saddle design / position and taking frequent breaks. My main concern is that this will restrict bloodflow to my genitals somehow; but I’ve certainly never experienced the genitals themselves actually going numb!
Could you ask your Doctor so that you have a medical point of view?
I have never had any numbness and believe it is a very bad thing in the long run. What kind of seat are you using? I have used many different ones with no numbness. Now I use a Scott Wallis with custom foam and cover of my design. I put a very deep “gonad gully” to prevent male issues. Something like that may help. I believe that firmer is better than softer, but some may disagree. You may try raising your seat to redistribute the weight. Good luck, but get this fixed!!
I think you are right with the cut off circulation. That and/or pinching nerves, rendering them temporarily dysfunctional. My privates themselves are not pinched or in any stress, so I don’t think a flatter seat would help. I may try a cut-out in the foam (my road unis both have some kind of standard Velo/KH seat). Air saddles, I’ve heard, only worsen the problem because they distribute the pressure evenly, whatever the sitting position. So there is little you can do to reduce pressure locally by changing seat position. BTW, I always ride with good padded cycling shorts especially on road trips.
But what I’m really after with my post is not so much remedies but rather: should I be concerned with these symptons? What kind of medical risks do I run? If it’s just the temporary effects that I have described, well those are unpleasant but bearable. Lasting effects are an entirely different matter. Of course I could consult a doctor as Mark Williamson suggests but I can’t be the only one experiencing this so I thought I’d tap the knowledge here first.
Yes. You can do long term damage. Unicycling isn’t main-stream enough for there to have been any medical studies done on this but, bicycling is. I read a very lengthy article about this issue in a serious biking magazine probably 15 or 20 years ago. It’s not a circulation issue, it’s a nerve issue and continued pressure on and subsequent smashing of the perineal nerve can permenantly damage it. Nerves are probably the slowest part of our bodies to be able to heal themselves. Sometimes it takes years, sometimes they never heal. The doctor who wrote the article had documented a couple of cases in which the patients’ sex life was severely hampered. I remember that shortly after the article appeared, just about every manufacturer of bike seats started making the grooved or slotted seats for men. I’ve seen postings on this forum of some homemade grooved seats. I have the same issue when I spend an hour or more on my uni and I’m going to start working on a seat of my own sometime in the near future.
Getting my KH air seat helped a lot and even more when I replaced the tube w/ a 2.5" trials. On both tubes it was a pain to get it in the right position and would shift every couple of days. Using lots of duct tape keeps it in one spot now, but that’s after redoing it at least six times at 45 min + each time:(
Since I take short breaks about once an hour anyway I haven’t had any discomfort with my current saddle. If it did become a problem though I’d think of it as justification to try out a variety of good saddles, padded shorts and experiment with the angle of the seat. It’s a medical necessity.
There’s no reason why a unicycle saddle should inherently cause numbness. Adjust the angle and height of the saddle and the problem should go away. Perhaps also check your riding position?
A numb acorn is the same problem I used to get on my road bike until I finally insisted on making any position adjustments myself. Easy enough to sort out with a little fiddling (innuendo entirely intentional, I’m sorry).