Removing vaginal pain or numbness from cycling

Many female cyclists report vulvar pain, numbness or tingling while riding. This can happen a lot more when you start cycling, but your body usually adjusts.

How to solve your vulvar bike riding woes

  • Don’t use cushioned seat covers, because this blocks your sit-bones (ischial bones) from propping you up, and leaving your vulva out of it.
  • Do wear padded shorts, as it cushions uncomfortable pressure points.
  • Sit properly. That means engaging your core muscles (bellybutton to spine), reducing bouncing.
  • Get set-up properly on your bike, so that your handlebars and seat are correctly placed for your body size.
  • Try a wider seat, since your sit-bones – as a lady – are wider than men’s.

What to do if the funny feelings persist

If the numbness and tingling lasts more than a few days, you should think about seeing a doctor to see what’s going on. It could be some kind of skin problem (a cyst, abscess, gland, hair follicle), or a pinched nerve.

Avoiding vulvar injury

You need to protect against chafe of your labia, so use some form of barrier cream like Vaseline or chamois cream onto your outer labia and inner thighs before you set off. Don’t wear loose clothing, since it can scrunch up in your groin and cause chafing. Fitted, seam-free biker shorts do have a purpose. You may consider leaving the underwear off.

It can pay to leave some hair on your pubic area including the labia, since it offers some protection, particularly if your chosen hair removal method is shaving or waxing, and you are in the grow-back stubbly period. If you have inflammation and hair follicle infection or irritation, it can turn into a fungal infection or another painful problem, so it’s best to try to avoid this in the first place.

If you have your period and want to ride, use a tampon or menstrual cup, not a pad – the blood and friction on the pad could be more than your poor vulva can take.  

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Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)