To ride a bike you must make contact with a saddle.  The interaction of your body and this part of the bike is a very important part of enjoying your riding.  Common female complaints like UTI or Thrush can be made worse by cycling.  Let’s learn how to deal with that.

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bike pants - recreation

Infections & Cycling – Will riding my bike cause problems?

Unfortunately female cyclists are more prone to a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) than the average population.  This makes sense when you understand that a UTI is caused by bacteria entering your urethra.  When we ride a bike there can be a build up of heat, sweat, friction and pressure where we sit on the saddle.  Which is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.  Signs that you have a UTI vary but a burning sensation or pain with urination is common, along with an increased need to go to the toilet only to find a few drops is all that will painfully come out.

Thrush is another infection that is caused by the build up of bacteria & yeast in the vagina.  Again bacteria flourishes in warm, wet environments so anyone prone to Thrush should be aware that cycling creates this situation.  Symptoms of a Thrush infection include burning or itching, redness, a white discharge.

So we have established that when we ride for prolonged periods of time there is a likelihood that we will be producing more bacteria.  This does not have to led to issues, it will not necessarily cause problems.  If we are aware and have some knowledge we can manage the situation and minimise the risk that comes with bacteria building up.

UTI and Thrush - cycling

Time on the bike can increase bacteria growth

How to Reduce the Likelihood of an Infection

No knickers when riding – cotton absorbs sweat so when worn against your body when you are sweating it will get wet.  Another layer of fabric in this area promotes heat and can cause friction, all things you don’t want.  We recommend using a chamois against your skin.  They have been designed to pull moisture away from your body, encourage air flow and many have anti-microbial properties.

Clean chamois – when you wear a padded pair of shorts, pants or underwear against your skin it should be clean.  So wash your padded pants/underwear after every ride.

Get out of your sweaty gear – as soon as possible after you have finished your ride get out of your riding clothing and shower.

Change your undies regularly – when off the bike, choose breathable cotton underwear and change them regularly.  After showers, when you get up in the morning, after any exercise.  Fresh & clean.

Natural products – fragrance free around this area is best. Shower gels, soaps and lotions. Fragrances can cause dryness and irritation around the urethra or vagina opening which can lead to the attraction of dirt and bacteria.

What to do if you get an infection

Do all of the things in the list above but also seek medical advice from your GP or at a pharmacy.  The usual treatment will be a few days of antibiotics, lots of fluids and rest.

Water – drink plenty of water so you are flushing out your urinary tract on a regular basis

UTI & Cranberry Juice – lines the bladder with a film making it difficult for bacteria to stick.  Is full of vitamin C and anti-oxidants that will help with inflammation.  Make sure you choose a natural, low sugar version.

 

Good hygiene habits will help prevent infections

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