Saddlesore? Or too numb to even know?

Topical news for the day that Bradley Wiggins struts along the streets of Southern France, resplendent in the Maillot Jaune of the world’s greatest cycling race. Six hours and more perched upon a racing saddle whose design features have more in common with Japanese kitchenware than bum-friendly cushions is enough to make anyone bowlegged. But men being built the way they are, with external wiggly bits and a narrow pelvis, come out of it better than women.

New research published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine reports sexual dysfunction as a consequence of bad positioning by women cyclists. And offers a simple solution: raise the handlebars. But as any competitive cyclist knows, raising the handlebars destroys aerodynamics, thus making the cyclist less competitive. And that’s possibly not a price that serious athletes are willing to pay for the sake of better sex. After six-plus hours in the saddle, they’re probably too tired for that anyway.


Handlebar level can affect sexual health of female cyclists

A new study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine reveals that handlebar position is associated with changes in genital sensation in female cyclists.

Led by Marsha K. Guess, MD, MS, of Yale University School of Medicine, researchers evaluated bicycle set-up in terms of the relationship between the seat and the handlebars. 48 competitive women cyclists were studied.

Researchers measured saddle pressures and sensation in the genital region to see if placing handlebars in different positions affects pressure and sensation in the genital region. Results showed that placing the handlebar lower than the seat was associated with increased pressure on the genital region and decreased sensation (reduced ability to detect vibration).

“Modifying bicycle set-up may help prevent genital nerve damage in female cyclists,” Guess notes. “Chronic insult to the genital nerves from increased saddle pressures could potentially result in sexual dysfunction.”

“There are a myriad of factors affecting women’s sexual function. If women can minimize pressure application to the genital tissues merely by repositioning their handlebars higher, to increase sitting upright, and thereby maximize pressure application to the woman’s sit bones, then they are one step closer to maintaining their very important sexual health,” explained Irwin Goldstein, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Source: The Journal of Sexual Medicine

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