How Cycling Impacts Women’s Sexual Health: Causes & Solutions

by Ella

Cycling, a beloved pastime for many, can unfortunately come with discomfort and pain, especially for women. Numbness, soreness, and swelling in the crotch and saddle area are common issues that female cyclists face. In this article, we’ll delve into the specific challenges women encounter while cycling and explore ways to mitigate these issues for a more comfortable ride.


Understanding the Discomfort:

For women, the primary problem areas while cycling are the vulva and perineum, which bear direct pressure from the saddle. Restricted blood supply and lymph drainage in these areas can lead to numbness, swelling, and discomfort. Additionally, continual pressure on the pudendal nerve, located in this region, can cause pain or numbness.


Dr. Jess Preshaw, a consultant gynaecologist, highlights the delicate nature of vulval skin, which is prone to trauma due to friction, heat, moisture, and sweat during cycling. Such conditions can alter the skin’s bacterial balance, increasing the risk of infection.


Prevention Measures:

To alleviate irritation and discomfort, Dr. Preshaw suggests adopting a skincare-like regime for the vulval skin. Using emollients as medical moisturizers can soothe and protect the skin, acting as a barrier against friction and moisture. Applying emollients liberally before a ride helps maintain skin moisture and reduces friction-related trauma.


Addressing Vaginal Swelling:

Vaginal swelling, a common issue among female cyclists, may occur due to irritation of glands at the base of the vagina, leading to blockages and potential infections. Proper bike fit is crucial in mitigating this issue. Opting for a wider saddle and adjusting handlebars to relieve pressure on the vulva and perineum can significantly improve comfort.

Seeking Medical Attention:

Persistent symptoms such as itching, soreness, bleeding, or swelling warrant medical attention. If discomfort persists, taking short breaks during rides or riding out of the saddle can provide relief. However, consulting a GP is essential for addressing persistent symptoms and ensuring overall sexual health.

Breaking the Taboo:

It’s crucial to destigmatize discussions around discomfort and pain related to cycling. No one should feel embarrassed to seek help for these issues. By raising awareness and promoting dialogue, we empower women to address these concerns openly and find solutions to enjoy cycling comfortably.

In conclusion, understanding the impact of cycling on women’s sexual health and adopting preventive measures can significantly enhance comfort and enjoyment while riding. By prioritizing self-care and seeking appropriate medical guidance, women can overcome discomfort and pursue their passion for cycling with confidence.


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