Your friendly benevolent overlord and VP founder has recently leveled up in her obsession with cycling. I have a couple of kids now (ages 4 and 2) and we bike everywhere together--in fact, we've all but replaced our car with my newish Surly Big Dummy longtail cargo bike.
Before I had the Dummy, I was riding a bike that wasn't really configured well to me. It had all the stock components and I would end a lot of rides with vulvar pain. No one really talks about this, and the problem is made worse by the fact that most bike shops seem to be to staffed by people who don't have vulvas. It is awkward, to say the least, to walk into one's local bike shop and say something like, "Hey, my clitoris and labia minora have been chafing/hurting/going numb when I ride--can you help me adjust my seat, give me some lube, or give me some tips on how to mitigate that?"
Plus, the issue is compounded if you're trans* and maybe don't present as someone who has a vulva, or if you have disabilities that are also at play. So I think that for plenty of reasons, vulva-owning cyclists tend to stay silent on the matter, which is unfortunate.
I write a blog called The Main Tank about being a feminist family cyclist and I'd love to break the silence on this issue and create an informal guide on maximum vulvar comfort/health when riding. I'd like your help!
Lovely Bicycle wrote up something pretty great, and the commentversation that followed was also instructive. That said, I'd love to write up something even more in-depth that is also heavily imbued with the VP spirit. When I've gotten your feedback, I'll compile everything into a series of posts for my blog. I can also repost here in VP if there's interest.
Let's talk vulvas and cycling! When you comment, please let me know:
- If you'd like to be credited and how I should refer to you (your LJ name, your real name, etc.--feel free to email responses to bob @ vaginapagina.com if you prefer not to state your real name here in LJ Land). If you don't mention it, I'll leave it anonymous.
- If you have a related blog you'd like me to link
- If you have relevant credentials (you work at a bike shop, or you've been riding for x years, etc.)
Here are some questions about which I'd love your feedback--feel free to add any other questions/comments, too! Pictures and links are especially welcome.
General: What types of vulvar comfort/health issues have you experienced while riding bikes? What kind of biking do you usually do? Do you have any issues that make achieving maximum comfort/health while riding difficult?
Saddle/Bike: If you've experienced clitoral or labial numbness/pain, how have you worked with your saddle to improve it? Did you change the angle/height, or perhaps try out different saddles? Did you end up getting a different bike altogether? Is there anything that you've tried that definitely does not work for you?
Clothes: If you've experienced clitoral or labial numbness/pain, how have you worked with different clothing arrangements to improve it? Is there anything that you've tried that definitely does not work for you?
Products: If you've experienced clitoral or labial numbness/pain, how have you worked with different products (lubricant, anti-chafing powders/creams, etc.) to improve it? Is there anything that you've tried that definitely does not work for you?
Menstruation: When you're on your period, what menstrual products or clothing do you use for maximum comfort while riding? Is there anything special you need to do while riding (stop frequently, etc.)? Is there anything that you've tried that definitely does not work for you?
Health: If you've experienced urinary tract infections, yeast infections, or other health issues while riding bikes, what have you done to prevent/remedy them? Is there anything that you've tried that definitely does not work for you?
Other: Anything else I forgot to mention that you'd like to share?
AKA The Main Tank
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