Bicycle seats built with the prostate in mind may prevent certain serious side effects of bicycling, including erectile dysfunction. If you already suffer from prostate problems, switching to a seat designed to relieve pressure in sensitive areas may allow you to return to painless riding. New seat designs require some new riding habits and slightly different adjustments than the older saddle styles.
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Prostate and Biking
The prostate's location at the center of the groin places this sensitive gland on the peak of a narrow conventional bicycle saddle. Pressure on the gland could cause unusually high levels of Prostate Specific Antigen, or PSA, in the blood, and high PSA levels sometimes signal prostate cancer. Saddle problems aren't thought to cause prostate cancer, but can aggravate prostate inflammation from other causes. Pressure on the perineum between the anus and penis may cause numbness, incontinence and temporary erectile dysfunction. Older cyclists with benign prostate enlargement may suffer increasingly severe symptoms.
Bicycle seats with a wider rear saddle area for support of the "sit bones" and a narrow nose for balance and bike control put pressure on the crotch as well as the bottom of the pelvis. Incorrect adjustment worsens the problem. Tipping the seat up puts more pressure on the perineum, while tipping the seat too far down slides the body forward onto the nose of the saddle. Placing the seat too far forward or backward on the rails also causes pressure problems. Nosed saddles with cutouts for the perineum only partly ease the trouble. Adding padding doesn't solve this problem, either, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
If you have prostate problems, the best type of bicycle seat should support the bottom of your pelvic bones but place no pressure on the perineum. The no-nose seat has either two separate pads or a single-piece saddle, but no part of the seat extends between the thighs. Studies of the effect of no-nose saddles on the sexual health of bicycle patrolmen proved the benefits of this seat style, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Noseless saddles like the Easy Seat or The Seat could limit blood circulation to the legs if not adjusted properly. Tilt the saddle slightly downward to ease pressure on the back of the thighs. The no-nose seat sits an inch lower than the ordinary saddle seat because the seat supports the pelvic bones instead of the higher groin area. Riders accustomed to nosed saddles often find the no-nose style awkward at first, but soon learn to control the bike without the added leverage of the saddle between the thighs.