Cut-Out Saddles Up Saddle Pressures for Female Cyclists

Mean, peak perineal saddle pressure higher with cut-out saddles than traditional saddles

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- The use of narrow and cut-out saddles by female competitive cyclists, rather than traditional or wider saddles, is associated with increased saddle pressures, according to a study published in the November issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Marsha K. Guess, M.D., from the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues investigated the association of saddle design, seat pressures, and genital nerve functioning in 48 premenopausal female competitive cyclists. Participant data on medical and reproductive health, and biking history were collected through interviews and questionnaires. Medoc Vibratory Sensation Analyzer 3000 was used to determine genital vibratory thresholds (VTs) and a specially designed map sensor estimated saddle pressures.

The investigators found that 54.8 percent of the participants used traditional saddles and 45.2 percent used cut-out saddles. Bivariate analysis revealed that mean and peak perineal saddle pressures (MPSP, PPSP) were lower with the use of traditional saddles than cut-out saddles, although the difference in PPSP was not statistically significant. Mean or peak total saddle pressures (MTSP and PTSP) were unaffected by saddle design. PPSP, MTSP, and PTSP, but not MPSP, were significantly associated with saddle width. After adjusting for variables, compared to women using traditional saddles, those women riding cut-out saddles had an average increase of 4 and 11 kPa in MPSP and PPSP, respectively. PPSP and MTSP were lower with use of wider saddles in adjusted analysis. After adjusting for age, the inverse association seen on bivariate analysis between saddle pressures and VTs was no longer significant.

"Cut-out and narrower saddles negatively affect saddle pressures in female cyclists," the authors write.

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