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Cyclist sues saddle manufacturer over erectile dysfunction. And loses

Scientists dismissed man's claim that cycling had ruined his marriage...

A man who sued a saddle manufacturers on the grounds his marriage had been ruined by erectile dysfunction caused by a bike saddle was wrong, according to a forensic expert.

Dr Patrick Hannon, from the Department of Biology, Northern Arizona University, USA, conducted an experiment to see whether the man’s claims could be correct.

The unnamed man, who was middle aged, said that after a 30-mile bike ride he noticed the nose of his saddle had deformed. He blamed this for his problems.

Writing in the Journal of Forensic Biomechanics, Dr Hannon said that: “Acute trauma resulting from direct impact to the perineum does have the potential to produce male erectile dysfunction.

“An estimate of some 600,000 American men are afflicted by traumatic vasculogenic impotence with some 250,000 of this population segment afflicted by sports injuries which involve blunt impact loading to the perineum or pelvis.”

He added that: “Studies indicate an occasional problem in serious bicyclists who have lost the ability to attain an erection after repeated multi-day rides. Treatment consists of eliminating the activity and placing additional padding within the bicycling shorts and/or using additional padding on the saddle seat of the bicycle.”

Dr Hammon decided to perform testing on a number of different saddles provided by the manufacturer in question, in which one cyclist sat on seven different seats while on a stationary bike.

The top of each saddle was covered with a compressive stress sensitive material, to give a 3-D picture of where the stress occurred.

Dr Hammon said: “The important result was that the actual damaged seat and a same make and model exemplar seat both outperformed all of the other five seats in terms of reducing the compressive stresses within the perineum of our exemplar subject.

“This result coupled with the fact that the literature does not support a relationship between 1) a one exposure 30 mile bike ride and 2) acute or chronic ED, led to my conclusion that the bicycle seat (deformed or not) was not the etiology of the plaintiff's ED in spite of plaintiff's reported temporal correctness.”

Back in 2014 we reported how MAMILs – Middle Aged Men In Lycra – may have a much greater than average risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to a new study. It’s not all bad news, though with researchers finding no evidence to back up the belief that cycling can lead to erectile dysfunction or infertility.

A team at University College London studied 5,200 male cyclists, 2,000 of them over the age of 50, in what they say is the biggest ever study on the effects of cycling on health, publishing their findings in the Journal of Men’s Health.

They found that men aged in their 50s who cycle more than half an hour a week are at twice the risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Those spending 8 hours 45 minutes or more in the saddle were six times more likely than average to receive such a diagnosis.

But researchers said that the findings, while surprising, did not necessarily mean there was a direct link between cycling and the disease.

One possibility is that cyclists are more aware of their health than the average person, meaning there is an increased chance of diagnosis, although they said that bike riders were no more likely to visit their doctor than average.

Another explanation however is that cycling does place more pressure on the prostate, although further research would be needed to establish whether there is definitely a link.

Dr Mark Hamer, of UCL’s School of Epidemiology, said: “It’s tricky to interpret. Obviously the men who are cycling for the most amount of time are more health aware so they may be just more likely to be diagnosed.

“Or there could be a genuine biological link between trauma in the area of the prostate associated with bike riding.

“We were quite surprised by the size of the finding for prostate cancer so it does warrant further investigation, but we can’t draw any conclusions from this study.”


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