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  1. #1
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    Saddle discomfort - Ladies only question!

    Heads up: this question has some frank language about ladybits, because that's the only way to explain the situation. If that bothers you, don't read!



    I just put a new saddle on my bike and took it for an average-length commute ride (for me) of about 10 miles. It's an origin 8 Pro Uno, it's cheap, good-looking, and miles more comfy than my old one... except for one thing. Instead of the usual new-saddle posterior ache, I had a new and unexpected problem: my labia were literally rubbed raw during the ride. I've never had anything like this happen before and haven't a clue what to do about it!

    I've tried all sorts of uncomfortable saddles over the years, but never had this particular problem. For the lady cyclists out there, have you found any solutions for this problem? Or should I just give up on this one and try something else?

  2. #2
    Carpe Velo Yo Spiff's Avatar
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    I'm not female, but I have worked with my wife on something similar. Her problem was that the pressure from the saddle made her feel as if she needed to pee all the time, so any ride could not go far from a restroom and the stops were frequent. She really didn't need to go all the time, but it felt that way.

    The solution was a women's designed saddle with a shorter nose. The shorter nose was the key item that resulted in less pressure in the wrong places. Being a leather loving Brooks fanatic myself, I took a chance and bought her a Brooks B67s, the "S" meaning "short". She loves it and the problem was solved.
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    My partner also had a similar issue, changing a saddle often slightly alters bike fit. We made several very small adjustments of saddle height, saddle angle and fore/aft adjustment - finally resolved her problem.
    ride long & prosper

  4. #4
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Speaking as a female cyclist ...

    -- make sure the saddle is wide enough for your sitbones. You need to sit on your sitbones, not on any other parts down there.

    -- don't use soft gel saddles. A harder saddle is better because you can support yourself on your sitbones rather than sinking into the gel and creating all sorts of friction.

    -- make sure the bicycle fit is correct.

    -- develop a strong core so that you can sit properly on a saddle. When you are sitting on your sitbones and when you have a strong core, you can lift the front of your general sitting area off the saddle so that you don't put pressure on that area.

    -- get a good pair of cycling shorts.

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    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    My wife had exactly the same issue develop after years of riding. She tried a number of different saddles but the one that did the trick was the Selle Italia Diva. It has the width, shape, and a cutout that worked for her. Of course everybody's bottom is different.

    http://www.selleitalia.com/se_it3/pr...d/pagina_diva/

  6. #6
    Senior Member PJCB's Avatar
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    As everyone mentioned, I make sure that my saddle is wide enough and short enough to support my hips. I also find it helps to make sure I am fitted just right on the bike, the geometry can make a big difference in the way you sit on the saddle. I tend to find that at any point, wearing padded women's specific undershorts helps a lot, along with breaking in a saddle gradually, rather than all at once. Make sure that you aren't wearing underwear under your padded shorts, that will cause more rubbing and friction. The less movement in that area, the better. I spring for more expensive saddles, like Yo Spliff suggested, as well. Better quality is worth it down there!
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    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Speaking as a female cyclist ...

    -- make sure the saddle is wide enough for your sitbones. You need to sit on your sitbones, not on any other parts down there.

    -- don't use soft gel saddles. A harder saddle is better because you can support yourself on your sitbones rather than sinking into the gel and creating all sorts of friction.

    -- make sure the bicycle fit is correct.

    -- develop a strong core so that you can sit properly on a saddle. When you are sitting on your sitbones and when you have a strong core, you can lift the front of your general sitting area off the saddle so that you don't put pressure on that area.

    -- get a good pair of cycling shorts.
    +1 [sitz bones, or sitting bones]

  8. #8
    Elmira>Taiwan>Elmira flatlander_48's Avatar
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    I am surprised no one mentioned chamois creme. Do females tend not to do that?
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  9. #9
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Agree with Machka.. stronger abdominals and back muscles..

    and keep trying different saddles, lots to choose amongst, firm is better than a soft saddle.

    and some with cutouts in the nose may be OK..

  10. #10
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    Thanks for all the advice everyone! I'll try repositioning it first to see if that helps. If not I guess I'll go back to the old one until I can afford something nicer. The saddle is just as wide as my old one and significantly less padded, so I'm betting it's either the shape of the nose or how it's positioned.

    Unfortunately cycling shorts won't do in this case - I commute by bike and have nowhere to change at work. But I'll definitely keep that in mind for longer fun-rides.

  11. #11
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flatlander_48 View Post
    I am surprised no one mentioned chamois creme. Do females tend not to do that?
    I rarely use the stuff. In fact, with a certain exception which I'll mention in a moment, I find it just makes matters worse. It makes my shorts stick to places I'd rather not have my shorts stick, and causes them to bunch in really uncomfortable ways, and wedge themselves into really uncomfortable places.

    The exception: If I'm on a long ride, and it is raining, a little bit of cream can help protect the skin.

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baytree View Post
    Unfortunately cycling shorts won't do in this case - I commute by bike and have nowhere to change at work. But I'll definitely keep that in mind for longer fun-rides.
    Your place of employment doesn't provide toilets?

  13. #13
    Just Keep Pedaling Beachgrad05's Avatar
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    Re: commute. Carry action wipes to clean up. Wear padded shorts or padded liners under current clothing. Change in restroom before work using the wipes to freshen up.

    I use Chamois cream on my rides especially long rides. I use it on the chamois and some on the skin.
    Move along....nothing to see here....anymore.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Notso_fastLane's Avatar
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    Or....try a recumbent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Your place of employment doesn't provide toilets?
    Actually, they don't... I work at a concessions stand outdoors. Lucky for me the shifts aren't too long!

  16. #16
    Intrepid Bicycle Commuter AlmostGreenGuy's Avatar
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    My wife had a similar issue with the saddle on her Trek Pure. The only solution that worked was a Brooks B68-S.


  17. #17
    Elmira>Taiwan>Elmira flatlander_48's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    I rarely use the stuff. In fact, with a certain exception which I'll mention in a moment, I find it just makes matters worse. It makes my shorts stick to places I'd rather not have my shorts stick, and causes them to bunch in really uncomfortable ways, and wedge themselves into really uncomfortable places.

    The exception: If I'm on a long ride, and it is raining, a little bit of cream can help protect the skin.
    If I may ask, which brand did you try as it might be one to avoid?
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  18. #18
    Senior Member 99Klein's Avatar
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    this sounds like it all happened after changing Saddles. If so my wife had the same problem when purchasing a new bike. She took the seat off of your old bike and still didn't help due to the change of position on the new bike. She purchased a woman specific saddle with wider area for the sit biness and cut out through the center fixed all her problems and wasn't expensive.
    When you argue with an idiot, from a bystanders point of view, it may be hard to discern which is the idiot. (dis·cern: Verb - Perceive or recognize)

  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flatlander_48 View Post
    If I may ask, which brand did you try as it might be one to avoid?
    I tried a whole heap of brands.

    In 2001, I started Randonneuring ... I did a Super Randonneur series (200K, 300K, 400K, 600K) ... all without any creams. In fact, I didn't even know about creams, but on the 600K, a couple of the people I rode with mentioned that they used various creams.

    In 2002, I did another Super Randonneur series, and rode the Rocky Mountain 1200 ... all without any creams, and without any issues.

    In 2003, I did another Super Randonneur series, but on the 600K, I did have some issues (pouring rain and loose shorts), and during the time between the 600K and the Paris-Brest-Paris, I thought I'd give these creams a try.

    So I bought and applied one cream, then rode a century or longer ride on one weekend. Then I bought and applied another cream, and rode another century or longer ride the next weekend. Then I bought and applied another cream, and rode another century or longer ride the next weekend ... and so on through the summer.

    By the end of that trial period, I had determined that I didn't like any creams ... they were all either bad, or didn't make any difference at all.



    I've been at this whole cycling thing a long, long time.

  20. #20
    Elmira>Taiwan>Elmira flatlander_48's Avatar
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    This is the first time that I've heard of chamois cremes causing a problem. I was just surprised. I've been on several forums for 10 or 11 years now and no one else has said this. Chamois cremes are formulated to resist soaking into the skin. When they soak in or get rubbed off is when they stop protecting. Regular skin lotions are designed to soak in and don't work well as chamois cremes because they don't stay on the surface. Skin lotion was my first thought, but I think what you're saying is that you haven't found a chamois creme that you're compatible with.
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  21. #21
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flatlander_48 View Post
    This is the first time that I've heard of chamois cremes causing a problem. I was just surprised. I've been on several forums for 10 or 11 years now and no one else has said this. Chamois cremes are formulated to resist soaking into the skin. When they soak in or get rubbed off is when they stop protecting. Regular skin lotions are designed to soak in and don't work well as chamois cremes because they don't stay on the surface. Skin lotion was my first thought, but I think what you're saying is that you haven't found a chamois creme that you're compatible with.
    Chamois Buttr doesn't work. Body Glide doesn't work. Those are a couple brands off the top of my head. They all cause the shorts to bunch and stick to me ... not a comfortable situation on a long ride.

    The thing is, I don't need creams. I don't get saddle sores. I've ridden almost 145,000 km with only the one saddle sore (which I mentioned above, caused by pouring rain and loose cycling shorts). Why would I want to apply a cream (which makes me more uncomfortable) when I can ride without and be very comfortable?

    Lots of people don't use creams of any sort. Rowan (my husband) doesn't, and he's a randonneur too. And if you do a search on the forums here (especially in the Road forum) on the topic of chamois creams, you'll find more people who don't use the stuff.

    What works much better than creams is:

    -- getting a bicycle that fits
    -- having that bicycle set up correctly
    -- getting a comfortable saddle that supports my sitbones (in both Rowan and my case, it's a Brooks)
    -- wearing comfortably snug shorts with smooth, fairly thin padding (the thick, lumpy, formed padding in many shorts these days is terrible)
    -- developing a strong core so I can sit lightly on the saddle, lift the soft bits, and distribute my weight between my butt and feet
    -- and keeping myself clean.

    On the keeping clean thing ... when you're on a long ride, especially on a hot day, the salt from your sweat collects and builds up on your skin (all over your body, but especially in the general sitting area), creating friction. I have found that if I stop every now and then, and wash myself with water and dry well with paper towels, I am so much more comfortable than I ever was using the creams. If I don't have access to water and paper towels, I use baby wipes.

  22. #22
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    A few adjustments to positioning did the trick. I ended up angling the nose down and moving the whole thing further forward.


    Matchka, I completely agree with you on chamois cream. It's uncomfortable, slippery, and much worse than nothing. In 15 years of daily riding, this is the first time I've ever gotten saddle sores... and they were in a place that lotion shouldn't ever go. For that matter, I've never had a problem wearing street clothes on a bike before now. Not even on all-day rides.

  23. #23
    Senior Member 99Klein's Avatar
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    +1 on the no cream. That stuff is just nasty! I'm really betting it's a saddle issue.
    When you argue with an idiot, from a bystanders point of view, it may be hard to discern which is the idiot. (dis·cern: Verb - Perceive or recognize)

  24. #24
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    Not a lady but maybe my recent experience can help... i was having the male version of this exact problem. Tried everything mentioned above. Found a Selle SMP TRK saddle...WORLD OF DIFFERENCE...First time out doubled ride distance and near zero discomfort and absolute zero numbness. So happy sp quick...
    The reason I replied here: a quick google search turned up a "Ladies" version of the same Selle SMP TRK saddle. Perhaps it may help alleviate some of this issue for the females.
    Nobody wants discomfort there...and everyone deserves a fun, comfortable, smile inducing ride.
    Best thoughts!!

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