by Sara Harris
This is a topic of conversation that has come up quite a bit over the last few months, especially now the ladies cycling scene has really grown. Ladies are ditching their morning spinning classes for some time on the tarmac or trails, investing in team kit, buying bikes, renting bikes and forming female cycling groups all over the world.
Now and again someone will message saying “I can’t make it to tonight’s ride as I am sore”. I remember over a year ago not many women were willing to say that that “sore” did not mean muscles but actually saddle sore. Mentioning lady parts was embarrassing... "perhaps it's only me!".
Now that groups are bonding and women are realising more and more that it’s not “just them”, but everyone, these conversations keep cropping up, on forums and also in private.
So I thought I’d put something out there for those who still feel a little shy to mention it.
Most female cyclists, whether roadies, triathletes or MTB'ers have experienced blistering, redness, infection, UTI, and general discomfort while riding and all are seeking that miracle cream for a more comfortable ride.
The general tips gleaned from a range of women during rides and forums suggest the use of chamois creams. There are various brands on the market, typically amongst the ladies I ride with I hear the following brands: Assos, Sudocreme, FIT, Assos with Vaseline, Chamois Butt’r, Nappy rash cream, Chapeau Cream. Some cyclists say apply liberally and others advise women not to go crazy on chamois cream. Good shorts and the right saddle (and positioning) should avoid the need to use of loads of cream.
One of my cycling buddies has a mixture of Lanacane, Chamois Butt’r and Canesten. She calls it her “Happy Hoo-Ha cream”. There you go.
You have different opinions right there, so you will need to try different things and discover what works for you.
If you are loathe to buy chamois cream which can be expensive, there is a concoction made by Acme Bicycle Company (USA) that you could make at home.
- 8 oz Vaseline
- 1/2 oz Neosporin (or any triple antibiotic ointment)
- ¼-½ tsp tea tree oil
Directions: Warm the Vaseline in a bath of warm water. Once it gets soft, stir in the other ingredients. Vaseline doesn’t wash away during the swim, and Neosporin is anti-bacterial as is tea tree oil.
You might need to consider that your saddle or shorts may also not be right for you, if you suffer from soreness a lot. If you feel that you are riding on thorns and have a prickly butt there is definitely something wrong!
You will experience a “normal” amount of soreness from a long ride. In an article in Triathlete magazine the following indications are listed which are quite useful:
This Is Normal
- Minor bruising or a little bit of soreness under your skeletal system, particularly in the sit bones or pubic ramus area
- Minor skin irritation
- Discomfort when increasing time in the saddle
- On a split-nose saddle, like the ISM Adamo or Dash, discomfort more focused on the pubic ramus area (under the pelvis) that gets better as you acclimate to the saddle over a few weeks
This Is Not Normal
- Severe chafing (saddle sores or cysts)
- Inflammation of the genitals
- Prolonged numbness, including pain or difficulty urinating after riding
- Loss or decrease in bladder control
If you experience anything abnormal I would strongly recommend that you have them checked by your doctor. I have heard about female cyclists leaving it unchecked and suffering infection, further blistering and then even stitches to assist with healing.
As a general rule, make sure that your shorts are clean and dry before use, and I have also read that you should not use fabric softener on them. Do not wear them for longer than you need to, change out of them soon after your ride and put on dry underwear. If you are at a facility where you can shower before a long ride home, even better. If not, have a supply of baby wipes with you so that you can clean up any chamois cream off your skin before you travel. Being sterile, clean and dry is key so as not to harbour or cultivate any infections. In the UAE particularly we have a harsh and hot climate during the summer months and your last home stretch could mean 20-30 minutes of riding in 40 degrees centigrade. The heat on the skin can take its toll!
If you break your skin accidently and the cuts are small, a product such as Eucerin’s Aquaphor or gentle antibiotic cream should help. I have used Mustela Barrier cream as it is non greasy and does not soak through clothes, and gives me almost an overnight result. You could also treat any swelling use ice in a sock or thin towel and relax with the ice pack applied. Ice bricks are particularly useful, keep them in the car in your cooler box – I have driven home with them strategically placed before!
Happy riding ladies – and remember that discussing your vajayjay concerns is not taboo, it could be helpful to others who are likely to have suffered the same issues.
"What gets said on the road, stays on the road".