Twitter Question: Can riding a certain type of bike seat (saddle) raise your PSA? Are there some saddles that are better?

Twitter Question: Can riding a certain type of bike seat (saddle) raise your PSA? Are there some saddles that are better?

Several studies have been published since the late 1990’s to determine if cycling has an effect on the serum PSA levels in men. PSA, or prostate specific antigen, is commonly used as an early marker for prostate cancer (although the use of serum PSA as a screening test has been the topic of controversy in recent years). The thought is that the stress and pressure placed on the prostate from a saddle seat while cycling can cause an increase in PSA levels.

A study published in the Journal of Urology in 1996  looked at the PSA levels of 260 men before and after a four day, 250 mile bike ride. After comparing the pre and post bike ride PSA levels, the study concluded that there was no statistically or clinically significant increase in PSA levels after the bicycle ride. There was, however, a subset of men within the study who had elevated baseline PSA levels before the ride and this group did experience a more significant increase in their PSA levels. Another study published in the journal Urology in 2003 investigated whether bicycle riding altered the PSA levels in men ages 50-74 after a 13 mile bike ride. Similarly, this study found that any increases in the PSA levels were not significant and had no diagnostic impact for prostate cancer screening. A 2009 study from the journal Urology specifically looked at the PSA levels of professional cyclists and also concluded that there was no effect of professional bicycle riding on serum PSA levels.

In short, studies have generally concluded that if a man does not have elevated baseline PSA levels, any increase in PSA after a bike ride is transient and not significant. If a man has elevated baseline PSA levels or prostate problems, he may experience a larger increase in his PSA level post bike ride and may want to discuss the issue with his physician before continuing any rigorous cycling exercise. Although several of the studies suggested that the increases seen in this subset of men were not clinically significant, I didn’t find anything that could definitively state this. Furthermore, I didn’t find any studies that have shown that cycling can increase the chances of a man developing benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) or prostate cancer.

As for the question whether some seats are better than others, the information I found on suggests that if you are encountering discomfort or irritation from cycling, try some padding or switch up seats until you find something that works.

Trauma from cycling has been associated with the development of prostatitis, which is basically an inflammation of the prostate gland. Symptoms may include: pain or burning sensation when urinating; difficulty urinating; frequent or urgent need to urinate; pain in the abdomen, groin or lower back; pain in the area between the scrotum and rectum; pain or discomfort of the penis or testicles; and painful orgasms.

Although prostatitis is treatable, it certainly doesn’t sound fun. Basically, if it hurts when you are cycling get some padding or change seats until it doesn’t! And if you have concerns about your PSA levels, see your doctor.




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