By Steven M. Schrader, Ph.D.
It is truly disappointing that this is merely an opinion piece without any data. Coach Fred failed to mention the 10% improvement in feeling in the penis (assuming as he indicates losing genital sensation is bad, then restoring it should be good). He also failed to mention that the Rigiscan data in this study (as the previous one) suggested a detriment that did not improve, possibly due to long term or permanent damage.
While cycling officers are different in many ways, their concerns about control, etc., were the same, and when they decided to give the saddles a serious trial they found that the control issue was minimal. When there is a serious attempt to use no-nose saddles, most individuals adapt in a few hours to a few days.
It appears that our recommendations are flawed if you ignore the significant findings, and then present opinions but no fact. I would love to see scientific data supporting his assertions. I have not seen credible scientific data indicating there is not a relationship between sexual dysfunction and cycling, nor I have seen data that says no-nose saddles do not remove the problem.
Instead of attacking the message, let’s make recommendations based on fact. Is there a chance that the data are correct, and these assertions that it is flawed will give many cyclists a false sense of well-being as they continue to do themselves harm? The only way we can move forward in this area is to use the weight of evidence of the data available and make recommendations on facts instead of trashing the science that is out there and saying it is not applicable to average recreational cyclist.
All of the data presented showed much greater pressure to the perineum on cyclists who lean forward (tops and drops) instead of the upright position. In fact, gleaning this data it appears a much lighter person leaning forward puts as much or more pressure on the perineum than the 220-lb. officer. What is Coach Fred’s take on Bressel’s work (not bike cops) using an MRI to show the compressed blood vessels of the penis. Their results indicated that a pressure of less than 10.5kPa is needed to allow normal blood flow, no-nose saddle achieve this with 7.0kPa of pressure.
Itis also interesting that recommendations in the article say that numbness is bad and should not be ignored, but the scientific measurements of genital numbness that were taken in female cyclists clearly showed a loss of sensation yet were minimized as not important because the women did not note a decrease in sexual pleasure. Is numbness important or not?
One of the frustrations to the scientific community is individuals who have no understanding of biostatistics, experimental design, population dynamics and scientific methods to have an “ah ha” moment that a study is wrong because some fact they know about the topic. It is apparent Coach Fred has put more thought into this topic than that, but statements about “flawed science” will get a negative response.
Understand the rigors that research goes through for a layman to say “flawed.” CDC does not fund research unless there is extensive scientific peer review. CDC does not allow papers to be published unless there is more scientific peer review and biomedical journals do not publish papers without an additional peer review. Are mistakes made? Of course, and as we learn more we may draw different conclusions. Unfortunately, it has become politically correct to say that scientific studies that do not agree with my point of view are flawed” or junk science (International Journal of Epidemiology 2008 37(1):46-53). This why putting the pieces of the puzzle together from the 40 + studies is important — weight of evidence. A shortcoming of one study is addressed in another.
Instead of saying all science is flawed, it would seem prudent to take notice and proceed with caution and gather real data on recreational cyclists if you believe they are different.
There is a chance I am right. Are you so sure I am wrong you are willing to risk your reader’s health?