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Bicycling is fun, but going numb in your ladyparts is not fun. Like, at all.
As has been recently reported, spending time in certain cycling positions doesn’t just cause erectile dysfunction in men: It might mess up ladies’ sex lives, too.
Anyway, here’s what’s up: if you have ever been on a bike or participated in a spin class, you have probably noticed that your weight rests on the nose of the seat which, as the New York Times explains, ” can compress nerves and blood vessels in the genital area” — leading to numbness and, er, uncomfortable tingling.
Yale researchers have determined that “female cyclists had less genital sensation compared with a control group of female runners.”
The scientists recently tried to figure out what was causing these pelvic probs. Their verdict?
“The lower the handlebars in relation to the saddle, the more a woman has to lean forward, forcing her to put a greater percentage of her body weight on the perineum. This problem is particularly likely to occur when a rider leans forward, flattens her back and puts her hands on the ‘drop bars’ of a road or track bicycle for a more aerodynamic position.”
Thankfully, there are solutions, and they are both product and position-based.
For starters, women can prevent perineum pressure by using a nose-less bike saddle.
The Guardian‘s Dawn Foster has many more useful tips. She suggests against using a gel saddle, as “the material bunches up,” fostering friction. Leather saddles, on the other hand, “stretch and mould to fit your backside perfectly.”
Also key, Foster notes, are properly adjusted handlebars, which affect weight distribution. The Yale studied made specific mention of drop handlebars — common with racing and touring cycles — as they tend to put a lot of pressure on the clitoral region.
And don’t forget to take weather into account. Right as Spring’s warmth approaches, Foster implores us to consider chamois cream and padded cycling shorts, “On long rides, if you’re wearing padded cycling tights, the best underwear choice is the most liberating cycling secret of all — go commando.” (OK!)
Caroline Samponaro, director of bicycle advocacy at Transportation Alternatives, tells Runnin’ Scared: “The thing that’s more practical in New York City, which is a commuter bike, is probably the thing that can help you out with this concern as well.”
“You’re sitting more upright,” she said. “Your weight is balanced, essentially.”