Not a week goes by without someone reaching out to me with questions about trouble with their saddle. Most cyclists freely discuss issues concerning our “southern region.” However, some folks are too embarrassed to talk about saddle sores, chafing, soft tissue swelling, or a host of other problems.
On a recent ride, when the group stopped at a red light, one woman mentioned having problems with a particular pair of shorts but only on one side. She wasn’t sure if it was the shorts, chamois, or even the lube she applied that was irritating her labia. The discussion quickly got very personal and honest, with one woman after the other chiming in about issues with her lady bits. To my surprise, one woman even said, during tri season, nothing looks right down there. Then the traffic light turned green, and we never resumed the discussion.
I was thrilled that this group of women were so open and honest. But it also made me wonder why no one has discussed labia issues before.
Fast forward a couple of days later, I was on a cycling industry Zoom call. Women’s saddle problems dominated the conversation. Roz Puleo happened to be on that call, and I was impressed by her knowledge and personal experience with similar saddle issues discussed on that recent women’s ride. In fact, Roz’s Ph.D. dissertation is on this exact topic. Hallelujah! Someone is taking time to study women’s health issues as they relate to cycling.
In addition to being an avid cyclist, Roz has an impressive resume. In addition to being an avid cyclist, she’s a co-owner of Serotta International Cycling Institute, a Nurse Practitioner, an Exercise Physiologist, a researcher, and a mother. Unfortunately, Roz also suffered from an issue with her labia not once but twice! Similar labia issues afflict some female cyclists, but many women suffer in silence; they don’t know how to address it with a medical professional or sometimes give up cycling altogether.
I am thrilled that Roz sat down with me to share her experiences and talk candidly about what she went through. We both hope that by sharing this information, women cyclists will no longer suffer in silence, understand what is happening to their bodies, and seek out medical assistance if necessary.
Cycling should not cause pain unless you intentionally go hard during training or a race. We all should enjoy the ride!