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Newbie question regarding genital numbness...(14 posts)

Newbie question regarding genital numbness...trophyhead
Apr 15, 2002 9:25 PM
Hi all,

I'm a pretty novice biker (first year) and have only ridden about 200 miles on a new and decent road bike I had fitted at a reputable local LBS.

My problem is...after riding for the last few weeks, I find that I have numbness in my genital area (I'm a guy BTW). This loss of sensation persists even after several days of no biking at all. I'm not totally numb mind you, but the loss of sensation is quite noticable at the base of my penis, on the sides particularly. The feeling is slowly coming back, but not quickly enough for my liking.

Talking to a more knowledgable biker friend of mine, he says that short-term numbness is not unusual, but for it to persist for several days is cause for concern.

Anyone have an idea as to how I can alleviate these symptoms? I wear cheap bike shorts, but they have no padding. The seat is not horribly uncomfortable to ride (Specialized BG Pro), but I'm novice enough that I might not know the difference between this one and a better fitting seat. Since the seat height was adjusted by my LBS, I'm guessing that's in the right ballpark too. I haven't played with the angle of the seat and it's pretty much level.

The crank I'm most worried about maintaining ain't attached to my bike!! Any tips would be appreciated!
re: Newbie question regarding genital numbness...SantaCruz
Apr 15, 2002 9:41 PM
Not an expert but the simplest things to try first are:
try padded bike shorts
buld up your time in the saddle slowly
tip the nose of the saddle down ever so slightly
try a new saddle
more "out of the saddle pedaling" during your rides
when coasting, lift you butt off the saddle slightly
maybe you are too stretched out and putting too much pressure on the genitals
have lbs check your positioning

You are right to be concerned, take steps to reduce and eliminate the problem.
Do something quick.Ken of Fresno
Apr 15, 2002 10:32 PM
A triathlete buddy of mine develped the same problem you are having. Only he didn't pay attention to the warning signs and kept riding just thinking it would go away. It didn't. One time he went completely numb for nearly a couple weeks. Scared him to death. He went to a few different doctors with minimal results. He stayed off the bike for a while, tried several new seats and different padded cycling shorts. Eventually, he regained all feeling. It was scary for a while there though. I think it happens more to people just getting into cycling than those who have been on the bike for years. I wouldn't just ignore it hoping it will go away. It may not.

Best of luck,
Not an expert, but...timfire
Apr 16, 2002 4:57 AM
I'm not an expert and have not had that problem, but I've read that that kind of numbness, while obviously not a good thing, is usually "harmless," meaning that it is rarely permanent. Staying off the bike will cause it to go away eventually. In a book I read a story about a guy who was numb for a couple of months!

Anyway that said, if you're concerned, or if you can't solve the problem, you should probabbly go see a doctor to be on the safe side. Other than that I just echo what others have said. Try real cycling shorts, get a better seat, and experiment with seat angle.

--Timothy Kleinert
Short term numbness maygrandemamou
Apr 16, 2002 5:04 AM
not be unusual but it's not normal. I would suggest playing with the saddle angle and fore and aft. I tilt the nose of mine ever so slightly up to keep from sliding onto the nose and have it pulled pretty far forward.

There is no exact science because everyone is built differently. Try different positions and if necessary switch saddles. Also, change positons every so often when riding. Slide back,forward and standup occasionaly.

Don't accept that it's part of the sport because it's not. If your having problems you need to make some adjustments.
Apr 16, 2002 5:40 AM
1) See a real doctor.
2) Get a bubble level (they're cheap) and play--gradually and slightly--with the angle of the saddle.
3) Get some decent padded shorts already. Really.
4) The changing positions suggestion is probably very worthwhile--even short breaks (standing up, shifting your weight) can do quite a bit to break the cumulative effects of an uncomfortable position.
5) Eventually, you might want to try different saddles.
"atrophyhead" could be your new 'handle'...Crankist
Apr 16, 2002 5:53 AM
...if you don't change something quick. All good suggestions above. Don't wait.
Get refitNessism
Apr 16, 2002 6:29 AM
Problems such as you are talking about are no laughing matter. First off, buy some proper cycling shorts. They are quite pricy but last a long time if you take care of them. Some of my Pearl Izumi's are over five years old and are still fine so just take the pill and spend some money.

Position on the bike and saddle type make a big difference. Check the reach to the bars, if it is too long you will have to rotate your pelvis forward which puts pressure on the sensitive area. And make sure your saddle is wide enough in the rear to support your pelvis.

Good luck.

Seat design is good. Slide it forward and drop it a bit.Quack
Apr 16, 2002 6:38 AM
I too have suffered the numb peep syndrome that you are experiencing. One time for three weeks. During this time, I came to the conclusion that the bike did not fit right. You indicated that you had a reputable bike shop fit you, but rarely can they get a good feel for how comfortable you'll feel after a couple hours in the position they've created for you.

It sounds like you have been fit with a position that is stretching you beyond what is comfortable. It's possibly causing you to tip and pulling you out onto the nose of the saddle putting pressure on your genital area, instead of on the sit bones of your butt.

If you get your position more compact/upright on the bike, you will most likely eliminate the need to ride out on the nose to feel comfortable. What I did was slide my saddle forward a couple cm and moved my levers up 1 cm to give me less of a reach to the hoods. If you really want to do it right and don't want to wreck the magic pedal/cleat position they've created for you, you can get a different stem or frame that pulls you in closer.

You can mess with tipping the nose of the saddle down a bit, but it will not eliminate the sliding out on the nose and will probably put more strain on your wrists. I've actually found that tipping the saddle back a bit forces me to ride back on my sit bones and aleviates some wrist pressure as well.
re: Newbie question regarding genital numbness...Troyboy
Apr 16, 2002 6:53 AM
This is a typical response to too large a bike/too much reach to the bars. You're not fit properly. Also, contrary to what some believe, turning the nose of the seat ever so slightly up, yes up, can force you to slide back a little and sit on your sit bones on the big part of the seat. Good luck.
Agree with the nose slightly upJimP
Apr 16, 2002 9:19 AM
I have had similar problems and the seat, seatpost, shorts, and position all contribute to the problem. I am not sure there is a "comfortable" seat ( that could open up a real debate) but the seat width and shape does need to somewhat match your pelvic area so the sits bones are supported without the nose being too wide. The seatpost issue is a matter of adjustment - some seatposts have only a few positions and others are very difficult to adjust. The 2 bolt adjustment system, like on the American Classic, gives infinite positions and is easy to change. The shorts are also important. Cheap shorts don't have stiff enough padding and also don't last. I am not advocating $100+ shorts but something in the $50-65 range. The seat position is probably the most important. If the nose of the saddle is pointed down, you tend to slide forward and your weight is supported by the nose of the saddle and guess where that is pressing. If the nose is fairly level or slightly upward, you wont slide forward as quickly. I have used a few of the "holey" saddles without much success. They seem fine for the first couple of hundred miles but the padding around the hole seems to compress and then you do slide into the middle of the saddle where the nose and rear is now too high. That's when I agonize over the mistake and buy a different saddle. Odd as it seems, the Selle Italia Flite fits me best, is the most comfortable, and lasts the longest.
Agree with the nose slightly upTroyboy
Apr 16, 2002 9:24 AM
I go back and forth on the seat issue. At about 500 miles I was liking the SLR less and less. As the mileage goes up and up I like it more and more. I'm now thinking I like it more than the Flite on another bike. That will likely change back and forth. The SLR has a very flat profile. I spend time pushing the center down to soften it just slightly. I think it works. Agree on the shorts. I really like Voler and Castelli bibs. My Sugoi are good too.
ditto on nose up -NMTig
Apr 16, 2002 2:16 PM
don't be afraid to adjust fitsalmonwheel
Apr 16, 2002 9:20 AM
Everybody is different and fitting does not account for every aspect of your anatomy or riding style. I never had any numbness that lasted more than a few hours after riding, but the short term numbness and discomfort I did have went away with a few adjustments to the seat position. My advice would be not too ignore it, but not to get to worried either. If it doesn't go away with more saddle time and position adjustments.

good luck