Men are not the only ones who experience soft tissue numbing in cycling, a large population of women cyclists also experience numbing in their sensitive soft tissue as a result of pressure in the perineum. The perineum is the area in between the rectum and the vagina in females. The perineal area contains blood vessels and nerves central to the external reproductive systems of both male and females alike which can be constricted as a result of certain bike saddles and/or bike fit. Compression and increased pressure in the perineum leads to the constriction of blood vessels that provide blood flow to the vaginal area in women, causing numbness.
This perineum pressure can be caused by a number of things. For example, cycling on the wrong saddle for your body can cause the compression of the sensitive nerves and blood vessels in the perineum, which ultimately leads to the numbing, tingling sensations, and pain. Another factor may be saddle height and/or saddle tilt. A saddle that is fit too high or at the incorrect angle for the cyclist’s needs causes an increased amount of pressure along the saddle, which also increases the chances of numbness in the genital region.
Find the right saddle for you and your riding style. Every person’s body and riding style is different, so the saddle that feels perfect for you may still cause numbness for someone else. Take the time to ride a saddle and adjust it to find your right positioning. Sitting upright may mean you will need a larger relief channel, while a forward aero position could call for a smaller relief channel.
Make sure your saddle height is not too high. Follow this formula to gauge the correct height for you: Inseam Length X .889 = Saddle Height. Don’t be afraid to play around with the tilt of the saddle. Little adjustments can make all the difference when it comes to pressure points.