A sore subject: bicycle seats
From the December, 2007 "University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter: The newsletter of nutrition, fitness, and self-care."
Many people don't cycle because they find bike seats uncomfortable. A cyclist's genitals and perineum (between the anus and genitals) can indeed take a beating. Even Sunday cyclists may notice numbness or pain, especially when riding over rough terrain. In men, temporary impotence can result, as well as prostate symptoms, such as frequent and/or painful urnination. Women may have temporary urinary tract symptoms.
To avoid or minimize these problems:
* Adjust the saddle angle to a more horizontal position.
* Set the saddle height so that you don't wobble from side to side as you pedal. If you are unsure, get the seat height angle adjusted at a bike store.
* Raise the handlebars if they are too low. Try to sit upright, because this puts less pressure on your bottom than leaning forward.
* Try different seats. A wider one may help. Some new seats have strategically placed cutouts or gel sections. There are also gel cushions that go over the seat.
* Try a mountain bike or hybrid bike that has shock absorbers.
* Consider a recumbent bike. The semi-reclining position puts less pressure on the genital area, and the seat is more like a chair---no soreness, no numbness.
An earlier NY Times story on the same subject.