Link between cycling and prostate problems

Written by g.d. palmer
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Link between cycling and prostate problems
The correct bicycle saddle greatly reduces the risk of prostate damage. (bicyclette image by razorconcept from Fotolia.com)

Taking up cycling is an excellent way to get in shape and enjoy the great outdoors, but there are questions as to whether it could affect sexual performance. Bicycle saddle pressure has been known to cause urinary problems in men, due to pressure on the prostate. Excessive cycling may lead to problems in unusual cases, but most cyclists will not encounter these issues.

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Types

Bicycle saddles come in many varieties, and choosing the right one can significantly reduce groin discomfort from riding. Most saddles currently in use are either made from padded plastic or tensioned leather. Some include closed cell foam or gels, which can actually put pressure on soft tissue if they are too thick. Some saddles also include a hole in the centre to reduce pressure on the prostate or genitals, but the shape of the edges may actually concentrate groin pressure in some people. Noseless saddles are also available, but can affect balance.

Misconceptions

Many men are concerned that any pressure on the perineum---the area between the genitals and anus---will cause damage to the prostate or even cancer. However, according to a study cited on the website "Bike Exchange," cycling caused no significant increase in prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels, even after a two- to seven-hour bicycle tour. While excessive cycling may cause discomfort, it is unlikely that normal riding will damage the prostate, much less cause cancer.

Effects

Long rides on poorly fitted bicycle saddles can cause groin discomfort. Narrow racing saddles may put pressure on the "sit bones"---the bones in the hips and upper legs. People with wider pelvises should choose a saddle with a wide rear area, even if it is not marketed for their sport. This decreases the chance of groin pain and minimises the possible prostate pressure.

Benefits

Cycling may actually be of benefit to men concerned about prostate trouble. According to the website "Cycling Performance Tips," cycling can improve the cardiovascular system, thus decreasing some of the major risks for prostate problems later on in life. Good physical fitness is a risk reducer when it comes to future prostate trouble.

Prevention/Solution

Preventing prostate problems can best be done by getting routine medical checkups and monitoring body function. Soreness and damage to the groin and perineum can be reduced by use of good riding technique and a properly adjusted, properly fitted saddle. Saddles that are too high or tilted up put more pressure on the perineum than properly adjusted ones.

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