Cycling is an easy, low-impact cardio option. Sadly, it can also cause issues… down there.
For many, cycling spells trouble for the prostate, a male reproductive gland that surrounds part of the urethra (the tube that empties the bladder) and sits below the bladder.
"Riding a bicycle can definitely aggravate the prostate," says David Nazarian, MD, a primary care physician in Beverly Hills.
As Dr. Nazarian points out, standard bicycle seats are designed in such a way that they often place pressure on the perineum, which is the area between your anus and genitals. This is also the area where you can find your prostate (if you have one), and tends to bear the brunt of the force when you ride. After a while, all that trauma can cause numbness, irritation, or tingling down there.
Cycling may also worsen prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) or chronic pelvic pain syndrome, says Jessica Yih, MD, a urologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
If cycling is giving your prostate a beating, swap out your seat before giving up. There are plenty of prostate-friendly bicycle seats you can buy for your ride. The following five options are a great place to start.
No, Cycling Doesn't Cause Prostate Cancer
You may have also heard that cyclists tend to experience higher rates of prostate cancer, a rumor that was fueled in part by a July 2014 study in the Journal of Men's Health. It's important to realize, though, that the study was observational, meaning it noticed an association between cycling and prostate cancer. It didn't find that one causes the other.
The more likely link between bike seats and prostate cancer: Cyclists tend to be very health-conscious, and therefore likely to see their doc when something’s off, according to Dr. Yih.
1. Best for Long-Distance Rides: Terry Liberator Y Gel
This prostate bike seat is ready to go the distance. It features multi-density foam for comfort, a wider contoured rear to support your sit bones and a groove through the nose and midsection to allow for improved blood flow.
Buy it: TerryBicycles.com; Price: $82.95
2. Best for Bike Commuting: Trek Bontrager Commuter Comp
If you're just biking to and from work or squeezing in a quick ride, this is one of the best bike seats for prostate health you can buy.
Its sleek contoured shape and full saddle cut-away helps protect soft tissues and ease pressure. Meanwhile, the air foam construction is both soft and supportive. Plus, you can easily attach a rear light to increase visibility on city streets.
Buy it: TrekBikes.com; Price: $44.99
3. Best for Performance and Racing: Specialized Romin EVO Comp Gel
Jakub Novak, head coach at ProCyclingCoaching and former World Tour cyclist, recommends checking out the saddles from top bike seat brand Specialized. "Most of the saddles are focused on blood flow," he says.
While this saddle ranks as one of the more expensive prostate bike seats options in our list, it's worth every penny if you plan on racing. It features an aerodynamic profile designed with speed in mind, as well as supportive foam and gel inserts to maximize comfort. Best of all, its patented design has been lab-tested to ensure blood flow to sensitive arteries.
Buy it: BackCountry.com; Price: $130
4. Best Noseless Option: Hobson Pro Hub X2
Noseless saddles aren't necessarily better for your prostate than other types of seats, Dr. Yih says. However, if you don't have luck with other saddles, or you just want to give noseless a try, this version from Hobson is a great choice.
It contains high-density foam gel padding for long-distance comfort, along with seat pad width adjustment so you can customize the fit to your body and preferences. Plus, you can use it on your stationary exercise bike, too.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $89.95
5. Best Value: Specialized Body Geometry Comfort Gel
If you consider yourself a casual rider, this may be the saddle for you. Another great, but less expensive Specialized bike seat, it checks all of the boxes to consider when buying a bike saddle for prostate health.
Think: plush foam and gel inserts for comfort, an anatomically-designed saddle groove to improve blood flow, and a wider seat to support your soft tissues.
Buy it: MikesBikes.com; Price: $49.99
3 Tips to Find Your Best Bike Seat for Prostate Problems
1. Try Different Styles
The best bicycle saddles for prostate comfort come in all shapes and sizes, from wide and noseless to narrow with a long nose. No style is necessarily superior to another.
"I don't recommend specific styles or brands because it's so individualized," says Taylor Thomas, founder and head coach of Thomas Endurance Coaching.
Therefore, it's important to test different styles to find the one that's right for you. Visit a bike shop to get help and recommendations.
2. Check Out Multiple Brands
Once you've figured out the best bike seat style for your prostate, sit on seats from several brands. From company to company, there's a lot of variation out there between similar-style seats.
Look for a prostate bike seat that supports your sit bones without putting pressure on soft tissue, Novak says. "This way, you protect blood flow and nerves," he adds.
3. Enlist a Pro
Once you find the prostate-friendly bicycle seat you love, bring your bike to the pro shop to have an expert fit you to it. "Your position on the seat is more important than the seat itself," Dr. Yih says.
The bike pro may also suggest tweaking other components of your bike — like the frame size — to fit your unique body, riding posture and preferences.