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Read this about urethral strictures. Medical stuff! LONG.(10 posts)

Read this about urethral strictures. Medical stuff! LONG.nigel
Jan 10, 2002 9:52 AM
Hey Board,

Some potentially scary stuff here, but I suggest reading on anyway.

Nigel here (a/k/a Shy Guy--I'm coming out of the closet and have overcome my shyness about my situation in an effort to make the good people here aware of a problem to watch out for).

Years back (10 years ago) I was diagnosed with a urethral stricture (a narrowing/blockage of the tube in men which carries urine from the bladder). I'd been riding a lot and racing, putting in lots of miles.

And now for the crotch-grabbing-in-imagined-agony part:

What happens is this: over time (or as a result of a blunt trauma, like bashing your gonads on the top tube--which fortunately DIDN'T happen to me), time in the saddle applies pressure to the soft-tissue area known as the perineum between a man's testicles and anus (No nicer way to say this! Sorry.). Eventually, one can close up entirely (like what happened to me the first time, since it happened SO GRADUALLY over months and months--I didn't even notice until it was too late). These strictures must be surgically fixed, and the earlier the better. They're not temporary, and don't go away with time.

The bottom line: be aware of your urine flow. If it seems that you're urinating with less force or that it's taking you longer, timewise, to void your bladder, I highly advise you seeing a urologist. Believe me on this: you DON'T want to be rushed into the Emergency Room. It's so much easier to have it treated before it gets serious.

THE GREAT NEWS: When I had the surgery ten years ago, it was a much more major procedure: a real-deal operating-room procedure (about an hour's worth of surgery) with nurses; my being put out completely with anesthesia; three days in the hospital with IV drips and catheterization (no fun); and loads of antibiotics and pain killers (to lessen the incredible burning which accompanied urinating). This time around, I went to the urologist's office and they injected a little anesthesia in my arm to make me dopey/sleepy but awake and comfortable (I talked with the nurse pretty much throughout and felt no pain). I didn't even have to fully disrobe--just from the waist down. The whole procedure itself took between five and eight minutes, and I was dressed shortly thereafter and felt pretty comfortable, really. Modern technology and medicine be praised! They insert a cystoscope (narrow, long tube with a camera and some fiber-optic incising thingy) and are able to make fewer, much more precise cuts with less discomfort and healing time for the patient.

Three days later, there's only the SLIGHTEST bit of discomfort; the burning was WAY less than HALF of what it was last time, and the doc says that--with a cutout saddle to relieve pressure on my plumbing down there--I can ride by this weekend!! I'm ordering a saddle presently (a Koobi AU seems perfect for my situation or for anyone who experiences numbness down there).

I write this not to frighten anyone, but to simply make them aware of their bodies and bodily functions. If anyone experiences numbness down there, I strongly suggest looking into cutout saddles like the Koobi line (the top-end saddles in their line are MADE BY SELLE ITALIA in Italy--true story, per the president of the company who personally called me to answer my questions about their saddles) and the Selle Italia Trans Am line (Flite, Max/EP Flite, Prolink, etc.). The saddles are true racing saddles and are by no means geeky; they have fine Italian craftsmanship and can make the difference between comfort and discomfort and can eliminate potentially serious problems in one's nether regions (like impotence, strictures, and other nasty situations).

Be aware, and take care. Thanks for reading. I'm sorry that it's so long and difficult of a read, but I felt this was very important and that I might be able to help some people out there. I hope I've impressed upon you to handle these medical situations BEFORE THEY GET SERIOUS. Do the right thing: see a doctor with ANY questions--they'll make you right. Don't fear the doctor--fear the reaper! :)

Cheers, and comfortable rides,
About saddles and position.nigel
Jan 10, 2002 10:01 AM
By the way, my saddle height and tilt have been spot-on in the past. I've never experienced any numbness or discomfort during or after rides, and have been riding a perfectly comfortable saddle--to me, anyway--(Selle Italia XO which came with my bike).

Gel saddles, by the way, have been known to still apply pressure to the perineum (pehr-i-NEE-um) in some cases. For many, they're just the ticket, however. Since there's a gel in there, it can "bunch" slightly and in some cases is slightly raised in the gel area, compared with an un-gelled saddle.

Just food for thought, that's all.

Safe rides,
Jan 10, 2002 10:03 AM
I've never noticed numbness, but I do have another problem that (thankfully) occurs infrequently. On long rides, I sometimes involuntarily urinate. Not a lot, but enough that I can feel it after it happens. Is this a symptom? I asked my GP, and he suggested that, if I were concerned, I should see a urologist. (I am not incontinent, I am in my early 30's, and I stopped wetting my bed when I was 3!)

p.s. thank god for the anonymity of message boards :-)
Jan 10, 2002 12:27 PM

I'd strongly suggest seeing a urologist. Really not that much to worry about. It's an extremely delicate subject, but I wouldn't hesitate to see the doc about it. You've got a somewhat unique situation there--at least I've not heard of this yet--and a urologist could likely shed some light on the topic and suggest or provide a cure.

Remember: with doctors of any kind, be ABSOLUTELY HONEST and TELL THEM EVERYTHING. You should not hold a single thing back; you're just a body to them, and they'll want to work with you to solve your "problem."

Best of luck and health to you,
What spooked me was this ...Brian C.
Jan 10, 2002 11:07 AM

I think I'm becoming psychosomatic: Every time ago I go out I wonder about future problems down under.

Thanks for your warning; guess it was more information we needed to know.
Another thing to watch out for ...tarwheel
Jan 10, 2002 2:33 PM
Thanks for the info, Nigel. I switched to a TransAm Max a year or so ago and have not had any problems with numbness since then. These kind of saddles really work if you ever experience numb nuts.

Along the same lines, I would advise other bikers to make sure you drink enough fluids, particularly on longer rides and on hot days. Your body loses a lot of water when cycling, through sweat as well as breathing. I developed a kidney stone last summer and my doctors said the main cause was not drinking enough fluids. Kidneys stones can be one of the most painful medical problems you will every experience, in some cases worse than gunshot wounds and childbirth. It's a simple matter drinking more fluids to prevent a serious and painful problem. I point this out because I am surprised by all the cyclists I see on group rides who seldom drink and sometimes don't even carry water bottles or CamelBaks. This is one area where you don't want to be a weight weenie.
Thanks for this post (NM)DCP
Jan 10, 2002 4:48 PM
Go ahead Nige...Ahimsa
Jan 10, 2002 5:59 PM've earned it lad.

Brass like that deserves a scotch egg and a few good pints!

I'd buy you a round o' Young's but we don't frequent the same pub!

Besides, what better way to help ya to the pisser than to go out and get pissed!

Cheers to ya!

Thank you, thank you (bowing in honor). :)nigel
Jan 10, 2002 9:35 PM
Ahimsa, ol' pal:

Thanks for the kind praise. I assure you that, once I'm off my antibiotic tabs, I'll dash to the shop round the corner that stocks Young's yummy Old Nick barleywine-style ale--a fave of mine, along with Ayinger's Celebrator Doppelbock--and savor one in your honor. Hell, maybe I'll down one of each in your honor! That'll send me to the pisser double-quick!!

Just wanted to make the good people on the board (and even the bad ones, since I wouldn't wish a stricture on anyone) were aware of a potential problem which can be, so to speak, head off at the pass. I'm glad so many have read the post.

Ta mate,
Jan 10, 2002 6:13 PM
There's easier and faster ways to get that burning sensation when urinating...;-)

Seriously, good info. I grew up and rode for 25 years thinking that having Mr. Happy go totally numb from riding was a very normal thing and just part of the game. I saw some articles a few years ago when this topic started to get some press and started going through saddles at an alarming rate in search of a good fit. Finally found that good bike fit and a good saddle could solve all of my problems.

If everything isn't happy down below you owe it to yourself to work at frame fit, positioning, and saddle selection until it is resolved. Look for a good LBS with lots of loaner saddles to try out. Just b/c a manufacuturer gaurantees that their saddle is comfy doesn't make it so (I think that the Avocet Air 40 is a total POS and I wish I got my money back). Selle Italia Max Flight Trans Am works for me and many others - YMMV

BTW - such a relief to know that you didn't have to totally disrobe - just from the waist down!!