Perineum pain from bicycling in men may indicate or lead to more serious reproductive and infectious conditions. According to a May 2003 researcher team led by Iain R. Spears, Ph.D., of the University of Teessidethe, the link between bicycling and damage to the perineum is an increasing cause for concern. According to an article by Irwin Goldstein, M.D., of the Boston University School of Medicine, cycling postures and seats may cause nerve dysfunction and compression-related changes in perineal structures.
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Bicycle seat or saddle pressure may cause perineum pain in men. The perineum does not handle compressive stress well. Friction between your skin, clothing and bicycle seat may also shear or stretch your skin and underlying tissues. Repetitive skin shearing may occur thousands of times during a 20- or 30-mile bike ride. Eventually your skin breaks down in the form of painful abrasions. Moisture, such as sweat, can increase shear forces on your skin. Your perineum skin temperature increases during cycling, which increases its blood supply needs. Therefore, pain may occur because seat pressure suppresses perineal blood flow at the same time that more blood is needed .
Chafing, infections and ulcers are symptoms associated with perineum pain from bicycling in men. Chafing appears as red and inflamed abrasions. Folliculitis and furuncles are infections that may cause perineum pain. Folliculitis is an infection of tiny hair follicles in your perineum, which may occur when hair follicles are damaged by friction and seat pressure. Furuncles are generally more painful than folliculitis, and may initially look and feel like a pimple. Furuncles are increasingly painful as they continue growing. Ulcers are small crater-like lesions, which may be extremely painful and occur more commonly among long-distance cyclists. Numbness, tingling and tightness may also occur with perineum pain from bicycling.
Impotence and infections are complications associated with perineum pain from bicycling in men. Skin ulcers, which result from damage to the outer layer of the skin, increase your risk of infection as bacteria can invade deeper layers of your skin. More extensive skin infections, such as cellulitis, can result from skin ulceration. Kjeld V. Andersen, M.D., of Trondheim University Hospital led a study reported in the April 1997 "Acta Neurologica Scandinavica" in which data was collected from 160 participants in a Norwegian annual 335-mile bicycle touring race. Impotence was reported by 21 men, which lasted more than one week in 11 and more than one month in three.
Standing up every 10 to 15 minutes while riding may help men avoid perineum pain from bicycling. Make sure your seat height lets your knee remain slightly bent at the bottom of each stroke. Your hips should not rock from side to side while peddling. Men may reduce or avoid perineum pain by using a neutral or slightly upward seat tilt. Gradually increase your riding mileage if you are a novice. Wear clean and dry cycling shorts that have natural or synthetic chamois. Changing your seat to a fluid-filled model may help prevent perineum pain by reducing the incidence of saddle sores. Alternative bike seats may feature noseless or dual-padded designs, which completely remove pressure on your perineum.
- The American College of Sports Medicine; “The Effect Of Saddle Design On Stresses In The Perineum During Cycling”; Iain R. Spears, et al.; May 2003
- Boston University School of Medicine Sexual Medicine: Erectile Dysfunction and Bicycling; Irwin Goldstein, M.D.
- "Acta Neurologica Scandinavica"; Impotence and Nerve Entrapment in Long Distance Amateur Cyclists; Kjeld V. Andersen, M.D., et.al; April 1997
- Jim Langley: Bicycle Seats Explained