A small study published in a 2002 issue of European Urology looked at whether bicycle riding was associated with erectile dysfunction.  The very small study of 20 young men between age 21 and 31 years of age had difficulties and often times the difficulties were associated with the type of seat or saddle.

The article looked at four different types of seats

(A) narrow heavily padded seat

(B) narrow seat with medium padding and a V-shaped groove in the saddle nose (“body geometry”)

(C) wide unpadded leather seat

(D) women’s special wide seat with medium padding and no saddle nose.

The article found that all cycling saddles decreased penile oxygen pressure which can lead to erectile dysfunction but to differing degrees.

RESULTS During cycling in all seats a decrease in penile oxygen pressure could be observed, reflecting perineal compression. But the differences were unexpected: seat (A) mean PtcO2 11.8 mmHg, decrease in initial oxygen pressure 82.4%; seat (B) mean PtcO2 20.8 mmHg, decrease in initial oxygen pressure 72.4%; seat (C) mean PtcO2 25.3 mmHg, decrease in initial oxygen pressure 63.6%; seat (D) mean PtcO2 62.3 mmHg, decrease in initial oxygen pressure 20.3%.

The article concluded that

Cycling in a seated position leads to a compression of perineal arteries with a consequent significant decrease in penile perfusion. But, there are unexpected differences between different saddle types. It was possible to demonstrate that the most important factor in safeguarding penile perfusion is not the amount of padding, but rather a saddle width which prevents sufficiently the compression of the perineal arteries.

So a women’s wide seat was bettere then a wide unpadded leather seat which was better then a narrow seat and found that the narrow heavily padded seat was the worst.

It is great to ride your bike but be careful of long rides with the wrong seat.

Source: Medline ® Abstract for Reference 41 of ‘Overview of male sexual dysfunction’ – UpToDate