Two posts! One day! *throws computer-shaped confetti in the air*
I somehow managed to talk the olâ€™ nether region a lot. And before I write every such post, I think, â€œThere is no way that people are going to care about this.â€ But Iâ€™m proven wrong every single time. See this post, this post, this post, this post, and this post. I guess itâ€™s one of those things that everyone thinks about even if weâ€™re not willing to be the first one to say something. But I am! So, Iâ€™m going to wave hi and bye to my few token male readers and dive back into the topic.
Side note: A few months back, I met Dr. Vanessa Schick, a â€œvulva-advocateâ€ whose research focuses on womenâ€™s health issues. Although Vanessa doesnâ€™t think itâ€™s wrong to give our vaginas cute nicknames like woo-ha, she presented a strong argument for embracing the word â€˜vaginaâ€™ or â€˜vulvaâ€™ without embarrassment. So there. Vagina, vagina, vagina. I feel like Iâ€™m in 5th grade health class all over again â€“ I have a distinct memory of my teacher making us say all these body parts aloud to remove the stigma.
This time, weâ€™re going to talk about vaginas and cycling. A few readers just pointed out that weâ€™re actually talking about chafing vulvas because chafing vaginas via cycling is kind of hard, butâ€¦ you get the point.
Have you ever gotten vagina chafe while cycling? No? Well, consider yourself lucky, my friend. Because if youâ€™ve ever chafed on any other part of your body, you can imagine what a vagina chafe is like. Itâ€™s not cool. (PS â€“ I have no idea how men comfortably ride bikes.)
â€œIs it my position?â€ Iâ€™d wonder. â€œMy shorts? My seat? My bike? Am I doomed to live a chafed life every time I get on the bike?!â€ The problem was intermittent but always worse on the indoor trainer. Finally, I sucked it up and emailed Coach Marni with this attention-grabbing subject sentence: My crotch hurts SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much when I cycle.
Coach Marni said what I was experiencing is technically called â€œsaddle soresâ€ and she believed my uncomfortable situation was caused by my hip position on my bike. â€œI have a feeling the problem is your bike, not your shorts,â€ she said. She blamed the entire set-up of my bike. Basically, it boiled down to bike fit. (This was before I broke down and bought a new bike.)
I found this Q&A on Active.com â€“ â€œWomenâ€™s Only Cycling Issues Explained.â€ The women writing in said that cycling was giving her saddle sores on her
vagina vulva. The response agreed with Marniâ€™s assessment.
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.
The article also listed several other solutions for saddle sores â€“ namely, wearing padded shorts (WITHOUT underwear!), being careful about shaving, occasionally changing position on the bike, being sure to stand up in the seat every 10 â€“ 15 minutes to give your bottom a break, and not suddenly increasing mileage.
Both Coach Marni and the Active.com article suggested using a cream designed for saddle sores. Now, I havenâ€™t tried any of these, so I canâ€™t vouch their effectiveness, but hereâ€™s a few popular options:
ButtonHole Chamois Cream (itâ€™s vegan)
In the end, you know what worked for me? My new bike! So my saddle sores were caused not by my bike shorts (which are awesome and I highly recommend) or my super-special-snowflake skin but just the fit of my bike. Man, bike fit is EVERYTHING, isnâ€™t it? I canâ€™t believe that Iâ€™ve been suffering through this problem for yeeeears of bike riding and never thought to seek out a solution like chamois crÃ¨me or.. heckâ€¦ a better seat or a properly-fitting bike.
Ever get a saddle sore? What helped remedy the chafing for you? Andâ€¦ although I think thereâ€™s a strong argument for calling vaginas vaginas (or vulvas vulvas and penises penises), if youâ€™re going to use a nickname, what do you say? (This post has a insanely amusing list of nicknames for your period.)