Cycling Issues Women Have That Men Don’t


Cycling for men and women can absolutely be different in the way cycling works out our bodies and minds, even.  With anything in life, it seems as though there will come with a few issues here and there.  That’s just life and we all must learn to ride the waves throughout each season.  If you’re a serious cyclist, especially a female cyclist, you are more than likely going to want to know the issues that come along with cycling.  What’s even more interesting, did you know that as a female cyclist, you will have completely different issues that men who cycle will not?  That’s right, our bodies are so different and each sport that we engage in will affect both men and women on such different levels.

Saddle Sores

This is an issue that only women will get and not men.  I know right, it’s not fair!  Saddle sores are sores in the groin, upper leg, and butt area.  What could be even worse is they force you to take time off from cycling. The best treatment for saddle sores is stopping them. The most common sores include blocked or infected glands, which show up as lumps, chafing problems and pain in the pelvic bone area where your weight may be resting.  How can one prevent them?  There are a lot of different ways to prevent saddle sores for women.  Be certain your bike is set up correctly. A saddle that is too high can force the rider to reach for the pedals, causing either pressure or chafing. A saddle that is too low doesn’t allow the legs to support the body and puts excess pressures on your crotch.

To help prevent chafing, slather your genital area and upper thigh with a good chamois creme or BodyGlide.  Wear padded cycling shorts without underwear. Cycling shorts are designed to reduce friction from seams, and the padding helps reduce pressure on sensitive areas.  Great hygiene is essential after the ride. Take off your dirty shorts, wash your crotch and don’t wear those shorts again until they have been cleaned.  Don’t suddenly increase weekly or daily mileage on the bike.  If you shave the upper leg and lower torso, a light application of antibiotic ointment after shaving may help prevent red spots and infected bumps.  Be certain the bike seat isn’t tilted too far up or down. This creates pressure, causing you to constantly push back in the saddle.  If problems persist, a different saddle may help, especially one with a soft or cutout area near the nose.

Affected Sexual Health

Most people wouldn’t imagine this, but women who cycle quite often can suffer from less pelvic sensation coming from the pelvic floor during sexual activities.  How in the world does this occur?  Great question!  A study by Yale researchers in 2006 discovered that female cyclists had less genital sense compared with a control group of female runners.  As a result from the study, some scientists believe that female cyclists probably are at similar risk for sexual problems as male riders.  In a most recent study, Yale researchers tried to determine whether there are specific factors which influence soreness and numbness among female riders. Forty-eight women took part in the study, each a consistent rider who cycled a minimum of 10 miles a week, but typically more.

Those women took their personal bikes and saddles into the lab. The researchers mounted the bikes on a stationary machine, having the riders position their seats and handlebars according to their preference. As the women pedaled, they reported whether they felt tenderness, numbness or tingling as a result of sitting on the bike seat, and a device was used to measure sensation in the pelvic floor.  Remarkably, it was the position of the handlebars that seemed to have the most effect.  You would never imagine something so simple such as handle bars could affect a women’s sexual health, would you?  Keep in mind that women on bikes with handlebars positioned lower than their seats experienced more heaviness in an area of soft tissue called the perineum, and had decreased sensation in the pelvic floor.

How to Protect Your Lady Parts While Cycling

  • Vaginitis: Women who bike a lot are sweating inside close-fitting clothing. That can promote the overgrowth of yeast, which thrives in hot moist settings.  What can I do to prevent this?  To avoid these unpleasantries, minimize chances for bacteria and fungus to multiply.  Get out of your shorts as soon as possible.  After you shower, using a hair dryer on low heat to dry your vaginal area can be helpful. Baby wipes or witch hazel on a cloth and a dry towel also help in a bit.

Loss of Sensation:  Up to 62 percent of competitive female cyclists described feeling genital numbness, tingling, or pain within the past 30 days in a small study of 48 racers published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. That’s 62 percent too many.  “Numbness should not be tolerated, period,” stated one researcher.  “Numbness is a sign you’re compressing nerves. That means something is wrong.”  How can I fix this issue?  Get a good qualified bike fit. You want the majority of your weight to be resting on your ischial tuberosities (the hard bones you feel when you sit down) or the pubic rami (the pelvic bones further forward), depending on your riding position, and not on your soft tissues.