Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bike Riding Can Lead to Impotence

SANDRA BLAKESLEE, NY TIMES - A raft of new studies suggest that cyclists, particularly men, should be careful which bicycle seats they choose. The studies add to earlier evidence that traditional bicycle saddles, the kind with a narrow rear and pointy nose, play a role in sexual impotence. Some saddle designs are more damaging than others, scientists say. But even so-called ergonomic seats, to protect the sex organs, can be harmful, the research finds. The dozen or so studies, from peer-reviewed journals, are summarized in three articles in September's Journal of Sexual Medicine.

In a bluntly worded editorial with the articles, Dr. Steven Schrader, a reproductive health expert who studies cycling at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, said he believed that it was no longer a question of "whether or not bicycle riding on a saddle causes erectile dysfunction." Instead, he said in an interview, "The question is, What are we going to do about it?"

The studies, by researchers at Boston University and in Italy, found that the more a person rides, the greater the risk of impotence or loss of libido. And researchers in Austria have found that many mountain bikers experience saddle-related trauma that leads to small calcified masses inside the scrotum. This does not mean that people should stop cycling, Dr. Schrader said. And those who ride bikes rarely or for short periods need not worry.

But riders who spend many hours on a bike each week should be concerned, he said.

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