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BICYCLE SADDLES AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

Over the last several years, NIOSH researchers have investigated the potential health effects of prolonged bicycling in police bicycle patrol units, including the possibility that some bicycle saddles exert excessive pressure on the urogenital area of cyclists, restricting blood flow to the genitals, resulting in adverse effects on sexual function.

NIOSH worked with several police departments with bicycle patrols to conduct reproductive health research. In these studies NIOSH did more than assess a problem; it also tested a solution and published recommendations. Several bicycle saddle manufacturers have developed saddles without protruding noses. NIOSH has investigated whether these saddles, which remove the pressure from the urogenital area, will alleviate any potential health problems.

Bike-mounted police officers

NIOSH Workplace Solutions – Recommendations

Workplace Solutions: No-nose Saddles for Preventing Genital Numbness and Sexual Dysfunction from Occupational Bicycling
(April 2009, Pub. No. 2009-131)

Watch these videos

See the No-nose Saddle Concept Explained:
Year: 2009
Running Time: 00:2:17 min
This video explains the concept of the no-nose saddle and why it is effective.

Watch Saddle Pressure Demo Video
Year: 2006
Filesize: 2.60MB; running time: 00:1:33 min
This video demonstrates the pressure from traditional and no-nose saddles.
If you have problems viewing this file go to the Real Player Web site to install the latest free version of Real Video Media Player.
Download transcript

NIOSH Scientific Papers on Bike Saddles

Women's Bike Seats: Does handlebar level damage the pelvic floor in female cyclists?
A study of competitive female cycles using traditional bicycle saddles comparing those with their handlebars above or level with the saddle with women whose handle bars were lower than the saddle. The study reports that that lower handlebars increase pressure to the genitals and is associated with a decrease in genital sensation.

Women's Bike Seats: A Pressing Matter for Competitive Female Cyclists
A study comparing competitive female using traditional saddle and those with a cut-out area. Bicycle saddles with the cut are supposed relieve pressure to the genital area improving saddle comfort. This study indicates that bicycle saddles with a cut-out area actually increased genital pressure in female cyclists compared to traditional bicycle saddles.

Cutting off the nose to save the penis
A study evaluating the effects on male bicycle police officers using no-nose (noseless) bicycle saddles for 6 months. The study data indicate that no-nose saddles eliminate a large portion of pressure to the groin compared to traditional saddles. Erectile function and feeling in the penis improved after using no-nose saddles for 6 months.

Genital sensation and sexual function in women bicyclists and runners: Are your feet safer than your seat?
A comparison study assessing the health effects of bike saddles on female bicycle police officers was planned. However, as there are relatively few female biking officers in any given police department, women in bicycle clubs were selected as a substitute population due to their similar hours of riding per week. The study data indicate that there is an association between bicycling and decreased genital sensation in competitive women bicyclists.

Effects of Bicycle Saddle Designs on the Pressure to the Perineum of the Bicyclist
A study conducted with cooperation from the International Police Mountain Bike Association measured perineal pressure and found that riding a bicycle having a saddle without a protruding nose significantly reduced physical pressure to the groin that has been associated with a measure of erectile dysfunction.

Nocturnal Penile Tumescence and Rigidity Testing in Bicycling Patrol Officers
A health assessment study was conducted in response to complaints of groin numbness in a bicycling police unit. The data suggest that prolonged bicycle riding may have negative effects on nocturnal erectile function and indicate a need for innovative bicycle saddle designs.

Health Hazard Evaluations

NIOSH conducts Health Hazard Evaluations (HHEs) to find out whether there are health hazards to employees caused by exposures or conditions in the workplace. An HHE repors related to bicycle patrol has been listed below. For a comprehensive listing of HHE reports, search the HHE Database.

NIOSHTIC-2 Search

A searchable bibliographic database of occupational safety and health publications, documents, grant reports, and journal articles supported in whole or in part by NIOSH.

NIOSHTIC-2 search results on bicycle saddles

Other Resources

International Police Mountain Bike Association Newsletter Articles:

 
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  • Page last reviewed: May 22, 2012
  • Page last updated: August 28, 2013
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