August 23, 2005 - Steven Schrader, a prominent researcher in sexual andreproductive health, philosophized in a guest editorial of theSeptember issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine that it is time tomove on - the current scientific focus on the relationship betweenbicycle riding and sexual health has now shifted. Whereas past researchemphasized whether or not a causal relationship existed between bicycleriding on a saddle (cause) and erectile dysfunction (disease), Dr.Schrader now states that the next step of contemporary research on thesubject should focus on intervention.
Dr. Schrader is a supervisory research biologist at the NationalInstitute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The statements inthe editorial represent his professional opinion and do not necessarilyreflect any policy statements by NIOSH.
Dr. Schrader was asked to review three new articles on thetopic published in the current issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicineentitled, "Bicycle Riding and Erectile Dysfunction: An Increase inInterest (and Concern)" by Huang et al, "Only the Nose Knows: PenileHemodynamic Study of the Perineum - Saddle Interface in Men withErectile Dysfunction Utilizing Bicycle Saddles and Seats with andwithout Nose Extensions" by Munarriz et al, and "Development of a NewGeometric Bicycle Saddle for the Maintenance of Genital-PerinealVascular Perfusion" by Breda et al.
These three peer-reviewed articles research thepathophysiology of the erectile dysfunction (ED) associated withbicycling. They together report that the high pressures in the perineumwhile straddling a saddle compress and temporarily occlude penile bloodflow. They also hypothesized that the lining vessels of the compressedarteries become damaged, thus leading to potential permanent arteryblockage.
However, not all men who ride bicycles will develop erectiledysfunction. One past study suggested that sexual health consequencesadversely affect 5% of riders (based on survey data that wouldtherefore include 1,000,000 riding men with ED).
"One would not expect that every bicyclist would suffer from EDany more than one would expect every smoker would get lung cancer,"says Schrader. "The next steps are quite clear. Effective strategiesbased on sound ergonometrics and urogenital physiologic principles andtesting are needed to reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction frombicycle riding." Schrader further concluded that "the health benefitsfrom having unrestricted vascular flow to and from the penis areself-evident."
Dr. Schrader's ground-breaking research in 2002 reported on thehazards of bicycle riding in police officers. This past innovativeresearch concluded that nighttime erections were of poorer quality inbiking police officers compared to non-biking police officers.Furthermore, nighttime erection quality decreased as seat pressureincreased and as the average number of hours in the saddle a dayincreased.
To better appreciate the scope of the problem, a 2002 NationalSurvey of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Attitudes and Behaviors wassponsored by the US Department of Transportation's National HighwayTraffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Bureau of TransportationStatistics, in part to gauge bicycle use. According to the survey,approximately 57 million people, 27.3% of the population age 16 orolder, rode a bicycle at least once during the summer of 2002 (www.bicyclinginfo.org/survey2002.htm).
About The Journal of Sexual Medicine
The Journal of Sexual Medicine is the official journal of theInternational Society for Sexual Medicine and its five regionalaffiliate societies. The aim of the journal is to publishmultidisciplinary basic science and clinical research to define andunderstand the scientific basis of male and female sexual function anddysfunction. For more information on The Journal of Sexual Medicine ,please visit http://jsm.issir.org.
About The International Society for Sexual Medicine
The International Society for Sexual Medicine (ISSM) was founded in1982 for the purpose of promoting research and exchange of knowledgefor the clinical entity "impotence" throughout the internationalscientific community. The society has over 2000 members worldwide, withfive regional societies that are affiliated with ISSM: the Africa GulfSociety for Sexual Medicine, Asia Pacific Society for Sexual Medicine,European Society for Sexual Medicine, Latin American Society forImpotence and Sexuality Research, and Sexual Medicine Society of NorthAmerica.
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