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About 27.3% of the driving age public (age 16 or older) reported they rode a bicycle at least once during the summer of 2002. This equates to approximately 57 million persons age 16 or older who rode a bicycle. Males were more likely to ride a bicycle (34.0%) than were females (21.3%). Incidence of bicycling declined steadily with age from a high of 39.1% among persons ages 16 to 24 to 8.6% among persons ages 65 or older.

--- Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Bicycle Riding Can Cause Erectile Dysfunction

Health debate needs to change focus to what can be done about it

Aug. 23, 2005 – A prominent researcher in sexual and reproductive health says the debate should end about bicycle saddles causing erectile dysfunction. It clearly does for some. It is now time to move on to what should be done about it. Males are much more likely to be bicycle riders than women, but the participation in bicycle riding decreases rapidly as age increases. Less than 10 percent of senior citizens do it regularly.

Steven Schrader presented his views in a guest editorial of the September issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine. He says that “it is time to move on - the current scientific focus on the relationship between bicycle riding and sexual health has now shifted.”

Whereas past research emphasized whether or not a causal relationship existed between bicycle riding on a saddle (cause) and erectile dysfunction (disease), Dr. Schrader now states that the next step of contemporary research on the subject should focus on intervention.

Dr. Schrader is a supervisory research biologist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The statements in the editorial represent his professional opinion and do not necessarily reflect any policy statements by NIOSH.

Dr. Schrader was asked to review three new articles on the topic published in the current issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine entitled, "Bicycle Riding and Erectile Dysfunction: An Increase in Interest (and Concern)" by Huang et al, "Only the Nose Knows: Penile Hemodynamic Study of the Perineum - Saddle Interface in Men with Erectile Dysfunction Utilizing Bicycle Saddles and Seats with and without Nose Extensions" by Munarriz et al, and "Development of a New Geometric Bicycle Saddle for the Maintenance of Genital-Perineal Vascular Perfusion" by Breda et al.

These three peer-reviewed articles research the pathophysiology of the erectile dysfunction (ED) associated with bicycling. They together report that the high pressures in the perineum while straddling a saddle compress and temporarily occlude penile blood flow. They also hypothesized that the lining vessels of the compressed arteries become damaged, thus leading to potential permanent artery blockage and erectile dysfunction.

However, not all men who ride bicycles will develop erectile dysfunction. One past study suggested that sexual health consequences adversely affect 5% of riders (based on survey data that would therefore include 1,000,000 riding men with ED).

"One would not expect that every bicyclist would suffer from ED any more than one would expect every smoker would get lung cancer," says Schrader.

"The next steps are quite clear. Effective strategies based on sound ergonometrics and urogenital physiologic principles and testing are needed to reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction from bicycle riding." Schrader further concluded that "the health benefits from having unrestricted vascular flow to and from the penis are self-evident."

Dr. Schrader's ground-breaking research in 2002 reported on the hazards of bicycle riding in police officers. This past innovative research concluded that nighttime erections were of poorer quality in biking police officers compared to non-biking police officers. Furthermore, nighttime erection quality decreased as seat pressure increased and as the average number of hours in the saddle a day increased.

To better appreciate the scope of the problem, a 2002 National Survey of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Attitudes and Behaviors was sponsored by the US Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Bureau of Transportation Statistics, in part to gauge bicycle use. According to the survey, approximately 57 million people, 27.3% of the population age 16 or older, rode a bicycle at least once during the summer of 2002 (www.bicyclinginfo.org/survey2002.htm).

About The Journal of Sexual Medicine
The Journal of Sexual Medicine is the official journal of the International Society for Sexual Medicine and its five regional affiliate societies. The aim of the journal is to publish multidisciplinary basic science and clinical research to define and understand the scientific basis of male and female sexual function and dysfunction. For more information on The Journal of Sexual Medicine , please visit http://jsm.issir.org.

About The International Society for Sexual Medicine
The International Society for Sexual Medicine (ISSM) was founded in 1982 for the purpose of promoting research and exchange of knowledge for the clinical entity "impotence" throughout the international scientific community. The society has over 2000 members worldwide, with five regional societies that are affiliated with ISSM: the Africa Gulf Society for Sexual Medicine, Asia Pacific Society for Sexual Medicine, European Society for Sexual Medicine, Latin American Society for Impotence and Sexuality Research, and Sexual Medicine Society of North America.

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