The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has issued a new publication recommending the use of no-nose, or noseless, bicycle saddles in the prevention of genital numbness and sexual dysfunction in workers who ride bicycles as part of their job.
This new publication, Workplace Solutions: No-Nose Saddles for Preventing Genital Numbness and Sexual Dysfunction from Occupational Bicycling, summarizes the findings of a number of NIOSH studies that demonstrated the effectiveness of these new saddles (seats) for the nearly 40,000 workers in public safety occupations who ride bicycles for their job. It also provides recommendations for addressing considerations involved in a switch to no-nose saddles from saddles that have noses, such as maintaining balance and stability on the bicycle.
NIOSH studies have shown that male bicycle patrol officers who spend an average of 25 hours a week on traditional bicycle saddles reported groin and genital numbness and more severe sexual problems. Previous NIOSH studies showed that the pressure on a traditional bicycle saddle in the area under the rider's groin is approximately 2.90 pounds per square inch during cycling, and can go up as high as 5.37 pounds per square inch. The pressure on the groin area compresses nerves and arteries that run through the groin between the sit bones, the bones located under the flesh of the butt, to the genitals. Over time, the pressure exerted on these nerves and arteries may lead to a loss of sensation and a decrease in blood supply to the genitals.
"Improving the quality of life for workers is an important part of workplace safety and health," said NIOSH Acting Director Christine M. Branche, Ph.D. "NIOSH is dedicated to improving the lives of workers and is pleased to see this research being put into practice for the benefit of these workers."
NIOSH studies have shown that no-nose bicycle saddles greatly reduced the pressure in the groin area, to approximately 1.02 pounds per square inch on average. The no-nose saddles also placed very little pressure forward of the sit bones, where the nerves and arteries for the genitals pass through. A 2008 NIOSH study found that more than 90% of officers on bicycle patrol who had tried using the no-nose saddles were still using them after 6 months and reporting that they believed the saddles could be used safely and effectively in their work.
In addition to employing no-nose bicycle saddles, the publication provides additional recommendations for reducing cyclists' risk from bicycle saddle pressure. These include seeking guidance on proper bicycle fit from a trained specialist, dismounting the bicycle when at a standstill, and dismounting the bicycle if you begin to have numbness, tingling, or loss of feeling in any part of your body.
The NIOSH Science Blog posted an entry on the use of no-nose bicycle saddles, which can be viewed at www.cdc.gov/niosh/blog/nsb042209_bikesaddle.html. For more information on no-nose bicycle saddles and how to reduce worker's risks go to www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/wp-solutions/2009-131/default.html.