Study looks at bike seats' effect on men's pelvic blood flow

By Jeanne Galatzer-Levy

Is it just an urban myth, or can long-term bike riding cause sexual dysfunction in men?

Previous studies have not shed much light on the question, says Dr. Craig Niederberger, professor and head of at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of , because they have not shown whether bike riding actually cuts off blood flow to men's genitals.

It had not been possible to measure exactly where and how much a bike seat exerts during a ride. Some earlier studies had measured the pressure on the bike seat, but not on the men's .

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

"And we really aren’t concerned with what the bicycle is feeling," said Neiderberger, who is also professor of engineering at UIC.

Niederberger and colleagues in engineering, urology and radiology designed a study to precisely measure pressure on the male anatomy. Volunteers will ride their bikes out on the street while a device designed and patented by the UIC researchers records data in real time as they try out six different seat designs.

The device, designed by the researchers working with UIC engineering students, can measure pressure on the artery supplying blood to the penis. The thin, flexible sensors are comfortable to wear and send information to equipment compact enough to wear in a backpack while riding.

A radiologist uses ultrasound to determine how much pressure completely blocks in each volunteer. That amount can differ for each man, according to Niederberger.

With four sensors attached to the skin above the blood vessels, the men ride for five minutes on the six different seats -- some of classic design, and some modified in shape or with padding intended to improve comfort.

Many new bicycle seats are designed to be more comfortable, but whether they are better for the men riding them is pretty much just a guess, Niederberger said.

"So far, we’re seeing a surprising amount of variation in how different seats affect different men, depending on their anatomy, their riding posture, and their riding habits," Niederberger said. "The question we would like to answer eventually is whether we can design a universal seat that is good for each and every man."

Video report available at youtu.be/LbTIQlOP2Zk

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How do you control a bicycle?

May 20, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- "Just like riding a bike" is a cliche for a simple skill you do not forget, but understanding how a human controls a bicycle is in some ways more challenging than understanding how a pilot flies an airplane, ...

Bicycle riding and ED are researched

Aug 24, 2005

A reproductive expert says scientists must now shift attention from cause to intervention in the relationship between bicycle riding and sexual health.

Riding a bike couldn't be ... more complicated

Jun 27, 2010

We are told there's nothing easier than riding a bike. The reality is when it comes to staying upright, there is nothing more complicated. The mathematical formula which explains the motion of a bicycle looks like it could ...

Recommended for you

Health care organizations see value of telemedicine

14 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Health care organizations are developing and implementing telemedicine programs, although many have yet to receive reimbursement, according to a report published by Foley & Lardner.

Before you go... are you in denial about death?

21 hours ago

For most of us, death conjures up strong feelings. We project all kinds of fears onto it. We worry about it, dismiss it, laugh it off, push it aside or don't think about it at all. Until we have to. Of course, ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.