A “sensitive” subject for women

Here’s one from the New York Times‘ “Well” column, entitled “Can Bicycling Affect a Woman’s Sexual Health?

Spending time on a bicycle seat, which has been linked to erectile dysfunction in men, may also be a hazard to a woman’s sexual health, a new study shows.

Many women who cycle or take spin classes are familiar with the numbness that sometimes can occur from sitting on a traditional bike seat. Bike seats are designed in such a way that body weight typically rests on the nose of the seat, which can compress nerves and blood vessels in the genital area. In men, this raises the risk of erectile dysfunction, something that has been documented in studies of male police officers on bicycle patrol.

First off, correct positioning on a bicycle can alleviate/eliminate most of the negative pressures involved in cycling. Secondly, although the author of the above essay mentions links to erectile dysfunction in men (and links directly to one study), I have personally read a number of other studies that suggest erectile dysfunction in long-distance cyclists is rare. Also, have you noticed how many children the pro peloton has? Those folks arguably spend more time on their saddles than anyone…and they’re popping out kids left and right!

I have read very little on the health effects of saddles/positioning on female cyclists, and am glad to see that there’s some focus being directed their way…but the important thing to take away from this article (and study) is that proper positioning and saddle choice is KEY. There are a number of articles addressing saddle choice and positioning for comfort. Also, most cycling experts discount the need for gimmicky “noseless” or “slotted” saddles.

Get positioned right…and if you experience numbness in your nether regions, think about getting a professional fitting at your local bike shop. Ladies, I’d sure like to hear your thoughts on this issue, as well.

About the author

Bicycle commuter since 1989, bicycle enthusiast for 30+ years. I am a Bookmobile/Books By Mail librarian at a large library system and the proud father of two wonderful boys.