Two posts! One day! *throws computer-shaped confetti in the air*


I somehow managed to talk the ol’ nether region a lot.  And before I write every such post, I think, “There is no way that people are going to care about this.”  But I’m proven wrong every single time.  See this post, this post, this post, this post, and this post.  I guess it’s one of those things that everyone thinks about even if we’re not willing to be the first one to say something.  But I am!  So, I’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 “vulva-advocate” whose research focuses on women’s health issues. Although Vanessa doesn’t think it’s wrong to give our vaginas cute nicknames like woo-ha, she presented a strong argument for embracing the word ‘vagina’ or ‘vulva’ without embarrassment.  So there.  Vagina, vagina, vagina.  I feel like I’m in 5th grade health class all over again – I have a distinct memory of my teacher making us say all these body parts aloud to remove the stigma.


This time, we’re going to talk about vaginas and cycling.  A few readers just pointed out that we’re actually talking about chafing vulvas because chafing vaginas via cycling is kind of hard, but… you get the point.

Have you ever gotten vagina chafe while cycling? No? Well, consider yourself lucky, my friend. Because if you’ve ever chafed on any other part of your body, you can imagine what a vagina chafe is like.  It’s not cool.  (PS – I have no idea how men comfortably ride bikes.)


“Is it my position?” I’d wonder. “My shorts? My seat? My bike? Am I doomed to live a chafed life every time I get on the bike?!”  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 “saddle sores” and she believed my uncomfortable situation was caused by my hip position on my bike. “I have a feeling the problem is your bike, not your shorts,” 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 – “Women’s Only Cycling Issues Explained.”  The women writing in said that cycling was giving her saddle sores on her vagina vulva. The response agreed with Marni’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 – 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 – 15 minutes to give your bottom a break,  and not suddenly increasing mileage.


Both Coach Marni and the article suggested using a cream designed for saddle sores. Now, I haven’t tried any of these, so I can’t vouch their effectiveness, but here’s a few popular options:


ButtonHole Chamois Cream (it’s vegan)


HooHa Ride Glide


Chamois Butt’r Creme


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, isn’t it? I can’t believe that I’ve been suffering through this problem for yeeeears of bike riding and never thought to seek out a solution like chamois crème or.. heck… a better seat or a properly-fitting bike.


Ever get a saddle sore? What helped remedy the chafing for you?  And… although I think there’s a strong argument for calling vaginas vaginas (or vulvas vulvas and penises penises), if you’re going to use a nickname, what do you say?  (This post has a insanely amusing list of nicknames for your period.)



  • Alessandra September 26, 2013, 1:26 pm

    I have had the SAME problem for about 4 years now, and FINALLY got a new fit on my old bike and holy cow do I love biking now! I used to hate getting on my bike. I know that’s dramatic, but it is all about the fit. I feel silly having waited too! Glad you got it and it works!! 😀

  • Sara @ LovingOnTheRun September 26, 2013, 1:27 pm

    I don’t bike that often, so I am not sure if it works the same for running but I either use Vaseline or something like it to rub on the areas I know will chafe. I have gotten chaffing in the same area from shorts that didn’t agree with me when running – I have found that Vaseline, Body Glide or another type of anti-chaffing creme really help!

  • Tanya September 26, 2013, 1:35 pm

    I’m all for use of proper terms. And I know it’s no big deal, but one of my pet peeves is how often people use the word vagina when they really mean vulva. My son tells me it’s one of those words that is so often used wrongly that it’s come to have a new meaning. Guess I may have to accept that.
    No nicknames here. One of my fond memories is when my daughter was 3 and I picked her up at preschool and the teacher told me (with a very red face) that my daughter had been playing with play dough and brought her an unidentified object and said proudly ‘Look, I made a vulva!’

    • Margaret September 26, 2013, 2:12 pm

      Yeah, I get that vulva and vagina are used interchangeably in casual usage, but if you’re going to include a paragraph about using actual scientific terms, shouldn’t you then continue on actually using the correct scientific term?

      • Caitlin September 26, 2013, 2:14 pm

        Ah this is true. So I guess I heart saying vulva. I still think calling the entire region vagina is a commonly accepted practice, right? Better than vajayjay…

  • Christine @ BookishlyB September 26, 2013, 2:05 pm

    I think something might be wrong with the shorts link. I’m curious- I’m new to cycling and yoga pants aren’t cutting it, haha.

  • Andrea September 26, 2013, 2:14 pm

    I use “vageene”. Lol.

    • Caitlin September 26, 2013, 2:19 pm

      So does my mom!

  • Sarah September 26, 2013, 2:17 pm

    What shorts do you wear? Do you think it’s worth it to buy cycle shorts just for a gym cycle class? I haven’t experienced chaffing but I do have saddle soreness that can make me dread a 60 minute cycle class!

  • Mandy @ Eat Pray Grow September 26, 2013, 2:38 pm

    So this is different from the aching butt (pelvic?) bone, right? I have that problem because I don’t bike very often. When I do, man does it ache! I figured that was one of those things I’d just have to live with, but now I’m wondering if an improper fit could be contributing to that, too.

    • Caitlin September 26, 2013, 2:45 pm

      It’s different yes. Do you have a friend who would swap you seats? That would help you rule out whether its your bike or the seat.

  • Katie September 26, 2013, 3:13 pm

    You’ve never lubed up??!! I don’t bike more than 10 miles without generously using some Hoo- ha. It’s like the miracle cream and makes the ride SO much more comfortable and I’ve never chaffed. It felt really weird the first time I used it but once I got going on the bike I felt amazing.

  • emily September 26, 2013, 3:29 pm

    I say lady cave, which the best slang ever because it allows you to use the verb spelunking to describe Cunnilingus (aka the worst technical sex term ever). Also, occasionally I mix it up with bajingo because Scrubs was just too great.

  • Megan September 26, 2013, 3:30 pm

    I’m a L&D nurse and much to my husbands dismay, my three year old loves to talk about her vagina. 😉

  • Dominique @ That's What Domi Said September 26, 2013, 4:03 pm

    A couple weeks ago, I started commuting to work by bike, and man oh man do I get saddle sore! I love the whole “life in the bike lane” thing, but that is a definite downside. Might have to double check my bike fit!

  • Amanda September 26, 2013, 4:23 pm

    Thanks for the info! Always appreciate posts like this.

  • Stephanie September 26, 2013, 4:51 pm

    I like to use Lady Bits or Lady Business 🙂

  • Susan September 26, 2013, 5:17 pm

    These pics are of your old bike, right? Would love to see you on the new one. You should get someone (the Husband ?) to take a pic of you in the saddle! Hope you have better luck with the new bike concerning your, uh, discomfort!!

  • Brittany September 26, 2013, 5:18 pm

    Yes – it’s all about fit and the saddle! Took me years to find a saddle I loved for my road bike and get it just right on my sit bones. Also, I love DZNuts as a ride cream/glide.

  • Emily September 26, 2013, 5:41 pm

    I am really, really glad you put out posts like this out. I knew very few female cyclists when I first started out, and the hubby (who’s an ex-pro) can only offer so much advice until it’s clear I need to seek out my own kind for these types of things.

    Saddle sores are the main reason my bike is still sitting in storage. I would occasionally get mad chafing back when I was racing. I would put off showering after my ride because that’s when you find out what all went wrong. If I want to get back into cycling again, I’m sure I’ll need a new saddle and bike fit since I’ll be coming back after baby and who knows where everything’s settled by now.

    One thing hubby did tell me that I actually listened to is to prevent gnarly things from happening, change out of your wet chamios immediately after getting off the bike. Hanging out in your kit post-race is apparently a pro faux pas. At least change into some comfy shorts before you raid the fridge or wait around for awards.

    I can’t say the v-word, or even type it. I refer to her as “my girl down there”. Super conservative former midwesterner, right here.

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat September 26, 2013, 7:02 pm

    Oh my gosh, YES! I am all too familiar with this problem. I teach spin classes, and actually had to cut down the number of classes I do per week because of it. I’m pretty sure my seat height is correct, but I’d be willing to try some of the other tricks you listed. I agree with Emily above – changing immediately after a ride is SO crucial. I have found that being really diligent about washing my cycle shorts and showering as soon as I get home has definitely helped. Thanks for this post Caitlin!

  • Crystal @TriFoodieMD September 26, 2013, 7:13 pm

    Caitlin –
    Glad to hear your new bike is much more comfortable. If you have any more problems on longer rides, I can only recommend the best saddle ever – ISM ADAMO! Seriously – it totally changed my life. So much more comfortable.

  • Rachel September 26, 2013, 7:23 pm

    I’ve had vagina soreness from horseback riding. It happens when I’m riding for long periods of time and my legs are sore so I support myself less. It’s painful! And as in the cycling world, it’s not something you talk about a lot with horseback riding. I never had a cure for it. I just hated going to the bathroom and I was “off limits” of a few days while i healed. (Note: Im a competive horseback rider and the average person shouldn’t get sore from horseback riding…I don’t want to scare anyone away from ridig a horse!)

  • Jenea Mason September 26, 2013, 9:31 pm

    This may sound like a dumb question but how do you get fitted for a bike? I’ve never gone bike shopping before but I’m going to buy my first bike when I get to 250, which is only 18 pounds away. As it’s coming up I want to make sure I’m buying a good bike but I have no idea what I should be shopping for. Any tips?

    • Caitlin September 27, 2013, 7:28 am

      Congrats!!! Any helpful salesman at a bike shop can help. 🙂 that’s part of what they so when they sell you the bike.

      • Jenea Mason September 27, 2013, 11:04 pm

        Good to know! Thank you. =D

  • Amanda September 26, 2013, 9:39 pm

    I often joke that spin class bruised my vulva and gave me a yeast infection. Seriously the worst experience EVER! Sooo painful. I can’t remember the last time I was so uncomfortable. I couldn’t sit for a week! Now I wear padded shorts to spin 🙂

  • Kim September 26, 2013, 10:05 pm

    I wear bike shorts (no underwear) and body glide for any rides over 15 miles. Shorter than that and it’s probably recreational/destination, so I’m usually not wearing exercise clothes. I think I’ve been lucky with my bike fit — longest ride has been 75 miles, I’ve definitely gotten sore, but never had any chafing problems!

  • Alina September 26, 2013, 10:50 pm

    I find that wearing cotton panties helps a lot, as does (like you said) taking a standing up break every few minutes (doesn’t hurt those quads either 😉 ). My other advice is getting a “women’s saddle”- mine’s worked wonders!

  • Kris September 27, 2013, 6:57 am

    I don’t end up with chafing, but I always get rash on my butt — so attractive 🙁 I shower or wipe down immediately after riding, and change out of my bike shorts, but it happens anyway. I did find the best thing to clear it up fast is coconut oil; it really works! And I do use some kind of butt paste if I’m going for a long ride.

  • Brittney September 27, 2013, 8:51 am

    What about using a gel seat? I have one that I switch back and forth between my road bike and mountain bike. I can’t even use the hard seat the bikes came with- ouch! The gel seat is way more comfortable and I don’t think they are that expensive…

  • Laura September 27, 2013, 9:34 am

    I haven’t chafed yet but I do always use a cream for any ride longer than an hour or so.

    Although I don’t chafe, my “vagina area” gets just plain sore when riding, even with padded shorts. I normally end up having to shift my seat back and inch or so on the saddle to alleviate the weight off the area. I was fitted a few years ago when I bought my bike but it might be time to be re-fit. I wish I knew where I should be sitting on my actual seat though.

  • Michelle September 27, 2013, 10:09 am

    FYI: I love you for this post.

    AND I usually say nether region and use vague hand motions. It’s usually while I am explaining what a brazilian wax is…

  • Colleen September 27, 2013, 10:32 am

    I definitely need to get fitted again. My bike and I do not see eye-to-eye anymore, especially after three kids. We (husband and I) like to use ‘bits and pieces’ for our kids (two boys and one girl). I started using the terms when they were babies at bath time along with ‘nook and cranny’ and it has just stuck for now.

  • Rebecca B September 27, 2013, 10:47 am

    I LOVE my leather saddle… and this post. I’m on my bike a lot, sometimes kitted up for long rides (50+ miles) and sometimes just around town in street clothes. Putting a Brooks leather saddle (womens’ standard) on my bike was a GREAT decision, because I haven’t had any saddle soreness since, even on longer around town rides without bike shorts. If you’re looking for comfort and aren’t super concered about the additional weight of a saddle, i HIGHLY recommend trying a leather one.

    If actual leather doesn’t work for your style of biking, I know I saw a handful of great reviews for women specific saddles – nice and wide so your tailbones sit on the saddle. Also, make sure the nose of the saddle is pointed down just slightly so your tender bits have a little more space and aren’t being crunched too much.

    I am also completely perplexed about how men ride bikes… 🙂

  • Angie September 27, 2013, 10:53 am

    When discussing cycling pain I usually say that it hurts my “lady parts” but otherwise I try to use anatomically correct terms. I got a new saddle this summer that seemed to help the lady parts issue because it forces me to put my weight on my sit bones instead of forward on the soft tissue. I wanted to race longer distances and basically decided that I couldn’t do it until I had the bike saddle/fit situation resolved. So painful! I invested in a Cobb saddle (they give you 90 days to test it out) figuring that if it worked it could go from bike to bike if I upgrade.

    • Angie September 27, 2013, 10:55 am

      Forgot to add I love the small chamois butt’r packets for race day. You can lube up right before the race and then toss the packet without having the return to transition.

  • Claire September 27, 2013, 1:24 pm

    BIKE FIT, BIKE FIT, BIKE FIT is the answer! My seat was a little too high on my new road bike and each pedal stroke was like a tiny death for the V area. I hit a bike shop at the halfway point and got my seat lowered and it was like OH MY GOD I LOVE LIFE AND BIKING AGAIN, AHHHHHHHHHHHHHMAZING!

  • Kathy September 28, 2013, 12:37 am

    I love that they actually used “hoo ha” in the name of the product. I’ve never chafed “down there” but then again, I’ve never ridden a bike more than for fun. I did used to teach spinning and I found the actually boney bits got quite sore but not the actual vaj..I really don’t super love the word vagina, it so clinical and oh so very un sexy but I guess when discussing a topic like this, we should in fact be clinical and unsexy. For other times, I like vagine, bits and pieces, cookie, cooter and “the whole situation” with a Price is Right sort of hand flourish…for when you’re feeling fancy

  • Runner Girl Eats September 28, 2013, 8:05 pm

    I love these posts. They remind that I’m not the only one that is having weird women problems 😉

  • Mark September 29, 2013, 4:38 pm

    Not quite sure how I came about this post. I used to have real problems with my seat. Then I tried one of the ‘ADAMO’ seats. Made a huge difference, I think they are also good for ladies 🙂

  • klh September 30, 2013, 8:41 am

    thanks for posting this!

  • Ginger October 1, 2013, 7:18 pm

    Thanks so much for this post. I know it’s silly, but I so do not want to talk to the guys at my LBS about this. I’m definitely doing something after the next race- too superstitious to change anything beforehand.

  • Cardio Lady March 7, 2014, 12:49 pm

    Cycling friction (raw skin) and shear(pulls tiny blood vessels) can irritate labia/clitoris vulva area. Keira Feminine Cream is specific for labia vulva, also inner thighs. Soothing for runners too!

  • Sisca April 29, 2014, 8:33 pm

    Ah! Thank you soooo much for this information. Now, I’m not a cyclist, but I do ride horses, meaning I get LITTERAL saddle sores. I only recently started getting them in the vuvla area, and let me tell you: it scared the shit out of me. Plus all the research I tried was just making me feel more scared.

    • Caitlin April 30, 2014, 7:37 am

      Oh I’ve been there. You gotta rub Vaseline on your crotch.

  • nadezhda June 4, 2014, 7:18 am

    I’m learning how to bike & don’t know how others can do it hours at a time. After roughly 30 mins my vagina is sore. I don’t get chafing, I don’t get rashes, just really sore. But seeing that the seat has to be positioned low enough so my feet can touch the ground to help balance myself, I don’t see a solution for this 🙁

    • Caitlin June 4, 2014, 7:49 am

      Your bike doesn’t fit right – have you taken it into the store?

  • Jessica August 7, 2014, 4:48 am

    Great post! I take a pretty intense spin class that incorporates abs and arms to the ride so there’s a lot of bouncing and rubbing going on. I’m definitely going to try some sort of cream to see if I can prevent chafing. I always double check with an instructor if I’m fitted correctly for the bike in class so either they’re giving me terrible information or it’s my movement. I think any word that people use is fine as long as it makes people comfortable enough to talk about their bodies. I will say that “penis” is an awful word, haha.

  • Jen October 9, 2014, 5:10 pm

    Soooo happy to have found this post! And to see that I’m not the only woman out there with a very sore lady-part-area!
    My question is this- for me, the saddle soreness seems to get worse when I’m on my period and have to wear extra protection. Does anyone know if the butt creams and pastes and stuff help with this as well? The chafing and soreness makes me NOT want to rub anything on down there, but I will try anything at this point. I’ve had my bike professionally fitted. It may be time for a new seat.

    • Caitlin October 9, 2014, 10:00 pm

      You should try the Diva Cup or a tampon (cut the string a bit so it doesn’t rub).

  • Lisa Surles February 2, 2015, 8:15 am

    I’m numb and saw from riding yesterday I wish and hope their is a better way.

  • michelle wall May 21, 2015, 7:58 pm

    Hi. thanks for your article, I found it very get chafing on my vagainal area which leads to bleeding. I am thinking it could be my saddle.

  • Sara August 31, 2015, 1:40 pm

    Thank you for this. I just did a spin class and my Hoo-ha made me question my exercise choice. I will just have to keep trying until my seat is in the right position 🙂

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