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How to prevent Getting Sore "Down There"

 Picture this, you’re 45 minutes into your two hour ride and things are going great, until you start to feel a bit uncomfortable “down there”. It’s not too bad though, you can totally ignore it and focus on your cadence, your Garmin, hill reps, the scenery – whatever works, right? Flash forward another 45 minutes and “a bit uncomfortable” has turned into a burning sensation. A sensation comparable to that of the fiery depths of Hades, and you are counting down the Kms until you’re done and can finally get off what is now your very own personal torture device.

Unfortunately, it’s a scenario that is well known to most female cyclists, who usually experience saddle pain more commonly than their male counterparts- a topic which has been labelled taboo and not really spoken of. As uncomfortable as talking about these issues can be, it is far worse to sit and suffer in silence. Especially, when a quick chat with a friend or bike store pro could be the difference between loving your ride or just getting through it.

Don't Ignore the Pain

There are a multitude of maladies female cyclists face from the seemingly innocuous tingling sensations right up to urinary tract infections. Getting a tingling sensation or numbness when riding may not seem like a big deal, however it could be an indicator of pinched nerves, which could lead to a significant decrease in genital sensation. Excess pressure on the genital area while riding can also result in swelling of the labia (inner, outer or even both) or saddle sores, which is a bit of a catch all word that can encompass a variety of afflictions. This can include; blocked or infected glands, chafing, infected hair follicles and pain in the pelvic area where your weight mostly rests.

Choose the Right Saddle

A good place to start in remedying the above is to look into different saddles for your bike. No two women are the same down there, so the saddle your friend raves about may cause you unnecessary problems. A lot of bike shops will let you try a saddle before you buy it to make sure it is suited to your body. Getting a professional bike fit will also help ensure that your bike is set up so you are in the optimal position while riding.

Invest in Chamois Cream

Using a quality chamois cream can help with chafing, as can trying different chamois/knicks. You may also want to reassess when your next appointment with your lady groomer is. Why? Shaving and waxing causes the hair follicles to open up and become inflamed, which is an invitation for sweat and bacteria to set in, both of which are prevalent during and after cycling. Tea tree oil has natural antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, which can be purchased in oil, soap or lotion form, and will help soothe and avoid inflammation caused by hair removal.

Keep it Clean

Long hours on the bike also mean long hours in your cycling kit, more specifically your knicks. Excess bacteria can build up in your knicks which in some cases can lead to vaginal infections such as thrush, bacterial vaginosis or even a urinary tract infection (UTI).

UTI’s can be brought on by bacteria travelling to the bladder. Symptoms can include a burning feeling when you urinate, a frequent or intense urge to urinate (even though little comes out when you do), pain or pressure in your back or lower abdomen and cloudy, dark, bloody, or strange-smelling urine. If you do experience this please see your doctor.

Avoid this build up of bacteria by always washing your kit as soon as possible after each use. And don’t reuse without a wash ladies! You can purchase tea tree oil based and antibacterial specific washing liquids available for your cycling (training) clothes. These will help kill off any bacteria hanging around. Additionally, try not to spend any more time than is necessary wearing your cycling knicks after your ride. If possible, change into loose fitting clothing as soon as you’re done and have a shower, or use baby wipes if need be.

Up the Vitamins

Upping your probiotic intake can also help maintain the protective bacteria in your body. Probiotic foods include yogurt, kefir, dark chocolate and kombucha tea and may assist you in preventing infections. Taking a multivitamin will also help give your body a boost to stave off any nasties.

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