Lowered Bike Handles Cause Genital Sensation in Women Cyclists

Holy Hormones Honey! I remember getting on a bike for the first time as an adolescent woman experiencing that genital sensation! Had no idea it would turn into a ‘impaired’ sensation. Should I make a social/political comment on the taboo of women enjoying genital pleasure?  Nah…  but I would imagine that competitive endurance riding can put extreme pressure and numbness on the pelvic floor.

Low Bike Handles May Hurt Women’s Sex Lives

MedPage Today
By John Gever, Senior Editor, MedPage Today
Published: July 30, 2012
Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco and Dorothy Caputo, MA, BSN, RN, Nurse Planner

Women cyclists who set their bikes’ handlebars lower than the saddle tended to show a degree of impaired genital sensation, researchers said.

Among 41 competitive cyclists, the 19 who rode bikes with relatively low handlebars had, on average, significantly higher vibratory thresholds in the anterior vagina, compared with riders whose handlebars were level with the bike saddle, according to Marsha K. Guess, MD, of Yale University, and colleagues.

Measurements of perineum saddle pressure also showed significant increases in the riders with low handlebars, Guess and colleagues reported online in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

“Correcting modifiable risk factors for pelvic floor damage may serve as the most important next step in enhancing riding safety in women cyclists,” the researchers wrote.

Genital numbness has been a recognized complaint of male as well as female cyclists, Guess and colleagues explained. They had conducted a previous study of 48 women who rode bicycles competitively and 22 female runners, which confirmed a decrease in genital sensation in the cyclists.

Saddle design appears to contribute to the problem, but, the researchers noted, how the riders sit on the saddle is also a factor, and perhaps the dominant one.

An earlier study by another group had found that pressures on the pelvic floor in both sexes were related to the relative positions of the handlebars and saddles.

Consequently, Guess and colleagues reanalyzed their data from the 48-rider sample, focusing on 41 participants for whom information on their bikes was available. These data included pressures exerted by the bike saddle while riding as well as biosthesiometry measures taken at various points in the women’s genital areas.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.