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  1. #1
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    Need advice for wife's saddle induced pain

    My wife has a Felt F85 that saw only one ride last year after she got it. We went for a pretty short ride today(her first of the year), 12 miles and afterward she complained of serious pain in her clitoris. She was riding a a Serfas saddle that seemed to me to be pretty hard in the nose. We later went to a bike shop where a couple of women actually work and, with the help of one of them, bought a Specialized Lithia Gel that seems much softer in the nose. We still need to take the bike to the shop to have them adjust the saddle height and fore/aft position. I was thinking maybe a triathlon saddle might help. She sat on my Selle SMP Pro and didn't seem to like it. She doesn't have this problem on her MTB or our tandem but she's in a very upright position on both. The Felt is her first road bike. Does she just have to toughen up?
    Any suggestions?
    I like cats, I just can't finish a whole one by myself.

  2. #2
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    I think the saddle fore-aft and tilt need need to be set correctly as it may be putting her in a position on the bike that puts pressure more towards the front. It may also be due to core muscle strength and/or how she sits on the saddle. If one tilts the pelvis forward to lean down in the lower position that is typical on a drop-bar road bike, then the weight and pressure will be on the soft parts and not the sit-bones. She needs to remember to keep the pelvis tilted back so that the sit-bones are holding her up, and bend down using the back and core muscles. If she is not comfortable/limber enough for that, the handlebars may need to be setup higher.

    The LBS should get that saddle set in the ballpark which should help, or possibly a fitting may be needed. Only after the saddle is set correctly and the bike tested out for a bit, can she tell if the saddle change helped or not. The search for the perfect saddle is not easy sometimes, but it's best to start properly setup on the bike before changing stuff.

  3. #3
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    Thanks. She did get a fitting when she bought the bike last year but that changes a bit with the new saddle. She does need to work on her core strength, recognizes that she does and is working on it. That will take some time because her core strength was and still is pretty low. I personally don't believe there's any such thing as the "perfect" saddle, I have too many laying around to believe it exists. The Selle SMP just happens to be the best I've found for me, so far.
    I like cats, I just can't finish a whole one by myself.

  4. #4
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    FWIW, I'm also new to cycling (and female), and while it may be true that your wife's core strength is affecting her position on the bike and that there is no perfect saddle, if she can't find something that's gentle on her soft tissues, she's not going to be too excited about getting back on that bike. My first saddle had me first painful and then completely numb in front and subsequently down my right leg. I got a new one (a Terry Butterfly) and *presto*: problem solved. I'm still a newbie and my positions still not awesome, but I'm comfortable now, so that I can work on improving my position and everything else.

    You know what they say about good pain and bad pain? A screaming clit is bad pain, and it's a non-starter as far as I'm concerned. Pain in your sit bones is completely different and something that you just get used to and that improves as you acclimate.

    Hope your wife finds a saddle she loves. It makes a huge difference.

  5. #5
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    Saddle width is important. If the saddle is too narrow to properly support her on her sit bones, the soft tissue will be supporting her weight and that is VERY painful.

    Try saddles of different width.

    More padding actually is worse for me for soft tissue pain. You sink down into a soft cushion, which on longer rides means less bone structure support.

    I found that a wider saddle, with very little padding to be my saddle nirvana.

    This is a good read:
    http://www.specialized.com/specs/spe...eometrysaddles

    This is my saddle nirvana, in a 155 width:

  6. #6
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    Both me and my wife were having saddle problems. Problems solved with this saddle. Email John and tell him about how your wife rides and where the problems are, and he will recommend a saddle. He has 3 to choose from. This V-Flow Plus solved our issues. Of course her fit needs to be dialed in for saddle comfort as well. You can find if there is a dealer in your area, and they usually have a demo saddle you can check out for a week or so to try it out.

    This saddle is a no-brainer to try out because he offers a 6 month no questions asked comfort guarantee. If you don't like it, just return it for a full refund.

    http://www.cobbcycling.com/
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  7. #7
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    Thanks for all the suggestions. She did get measured using the Specialized gizmo and got the Specialized Lithia Gel as a result. I think the issue may have been resolved with a bit of information from John Cobb's website. He mentioned putting the saddle "off axis" by as much as 5 degrees to help relieve pain. She had pain on the left side, so I rotated the nose slightly to the right. She rode it for a while and was quite pleased with the difference. We shall see how it is when we go out for a 15-20 mile, hopefully next weekend.
    I like cats, I just can't finish a whole one by myself.

  8. #8
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    Her weight distribution is incorrect and needs to be more on her sit bones. Check the setback from the bottom bracket to the middle of the saddle. Sounds like a fore/aft adjustment, and maybe a higher handlebar height too. Get back to the more upright position and she can gradually lower it later.

    My wife is a fan of Terry saddles. You can order direct and can return them if they don't work out for 100% refund or try another model.

  9. #9
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    Take a look at the hornless Moonsaddle. It is impossible to get clitoris pain from one. It looks funny but it really does work. Buy at no risk because it comes with a 60 day money back guarantee. I have 3 with a total of over 4000 miles on them.

    www.moonsaddle.com
    Last edited by Trek2.3; 08-06-2010 at 01:56 AM.

  10. #10
    CircaRigel
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    The fore/aft tilt suggestion is good. Also, I ride w/ a Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow, and I find the cutout pretty much prevents pressure/rubbing in the more sensitive areas.
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  11. #11
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    If she is experiencing discomfort in her clitoris, I would recommend that she consider a saddle with a cut out (like the Specialized Jett) not just a channel (like the Lithia). Then, she should be fit that when she's in her pelvic tilt position, her soft tissue is centered over the cut-out, not the nose of the saddle. I can't tell you how many women I've fit who think they're supposed to sit forward on the nose of the saddle. As soon as they're in the correct position on the saddle, all their discomfort disappears.
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  12. #12
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    Just want to add that Fizik is making good women's saddles now.

  13. #13
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    You might want to also make sure she's lubing the area as well. I've read many a forums about this issue since I was experiencing this same discomfort last season. Rubbing from the saddle might also be making the tissues rub together against themselves thus causing pain as well. Diaper rash cream works great.
    "Whatever you do in life will be insignificant. But it's very important that you do it." - Gandhi

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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by il sogno
    Just want to add that Fizik is making good women's saddles now.
    I take this back. I test rode two Fizik woman's saddles the Vitesse Sport and the Vesta. They both hurt like heck.

  15. #15
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    Her problems seem to have been resolved by rotating the saddle slightly to the right.
    I like cats, I just can't finish a whole one by myself.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by GerryR
    Her problems seem to have been resolved by rotating the saddle slightly to the right.
    Good to hear, IMO Specialized makes great women's saddles.

  17. #17
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    My wife just started riding 3 weeks ago. Initially she had sit bone sore, which is natural and has since gotten used to the saddle and no longer sore. However, she constantly cmplain of soreness on the sides of her groin.....the 2 side bones of her vagina. I have looked at her saddle and the angle seems ok to me....but again I may be wrong. The current saddle is from Colnago that came with the bike. I have posted a photo below. I have also thought of changing her saddle. Would appreciate it if anyone could share on your view on this. Thanks.
    Last edited by arcustic; 01-03-2011 at 12:54 AM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by arcustic
    My wife just started riding 3 weeks ago. Initially she had sit bone sore, which is natural and has since gotten used to the saddle and no longer sore. However, she constantly cmplain of soreness on the sides of her groin.....the 2 side bones of her vagina. I have looked at her saddle and the angle seems ok to me....but again I may be wrong. The current saddle is from Colnago that came with the bike. I have posted a photo below. I have also thought of changing her saddle. Would appreciate it if anyone could share on your view on this. Thanks.
    Try a Specialized saddle. They take a ride or two to conform to your sitbones but they're very, very good. I'm riding a Specialized Romin now.

  19. #19
    botanical guru
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    Quote Originally Posted by arcustic
    My wife just started riding 3 weeks ago. Initially she had sit bone sore, which is natural and has since gotten used to the saddle and no longer sore. However, she constantly cmplain of soreness on the sides of her groin.....the 2 side bones of her vagina. I have looked at her saddle and the angle seems ok to me....but again I may be wrong. The current saddle is from Colnago that came with the bike. I have posted a photo below. I have also thought of changing her saddle. Would appreciate it if anyone could share on your view on this. Thanks.

    Make sure she's sitting on her sit bones and rolling her lower back into a "C" shape, pulling the top of her pelvis towards her spine. It is difficult to do if you don't have a strong core. Make sure she's doing core every other day as part of strenght training/xtraining days. RIght now it sounds like she's putting too much weight on the middle of the groin area, where those ligaments run on the sides of the vagina. Also, make sure there are no bunches of fabric from her shorts, or the chamois in the shorts in that area. Some women like a shorter short, so they yank em up, then all the extra fabric bunches there, and then suddenly you're all chafed there. She also might want to use a little chamois cream, body glide, Nozema, or diaper rash cream. Make sure the chamois is of quality, and that the seam that connects the chamois to the short itself is not rigid. It needs to be as smooth as possible. Her saddle should also be completely level(place a small level on the back of the saddle and reach the other end of it to the nose), that way she's not tilting her pelvis forward, causing her weight to be supported by the middle and front of the vagina instead of the sit bones. If all of that fails, it's her saddle.

    Good luck!
    "Whatever you do in life will be insignificant. But it's very important that you do it." - Gandhi

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by il sogno
    Try a Specialized saddle. They take a ride or two to conform to your sitbones but they're very, very good. I'm riding a Specialized Romin now.
    Thanks. I will have keep that as an option.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by gardenrunner
    Make sure she's sitting on her sit bones and rolling her lower back into a "C" shape, pulling the top of her pelvis towards her spine. It is difficult to do if you don't have a strong core. Make sure she's doing core every other day as part of strenght training/xtraining days. RIght now it sounds like she's putting too much weight on the middle of the groin area, where those ligaments run on the sides of the vagina. Also, make sure there are no bunches of fabric from her shorts, or the chamois in the shorts in that area. Some women like a shorter short, so they yank em up, then all the extra fabric bunches there, and then suddenly you're all chafed there. She also might want to use a little chamois cream, body glide, Nozema, or diaper rash cream. Make sure the chamois is of quality, and that the seam that connects the chamois to the short itself is not rigid. It needs to be as smooth as possible. Her saddle should also be completely level(place a small level on the back of the saddle and reach the other end of it to the nose), that way she's not tilting her pelvis forward, causing her weight to be supported by the middle and front of the vagina instead of the sit bones. If all of that fails, it's her saddle.

    Good luck!
    Yes, I also suspect that it could be her sitting position. Will work out her positioning and incorporate core strength training for her.

    Her shorts which are from Pearl Izumi....Women Symphony Knickers and Women Elite, which are new and the chamois are superb. Will try using diaper rash cream.

    Thanks for the input.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by arcustic
    Yes, I also suspect that it could be her sitting position. Will work out her positioning and incorporate core strength training for her.

    Her shorts which are from Pearl Izumi....Women Symphony Knickers and Women Elite, which are new and the chamois are superb. Will try using diaper rash cream.

    Thanks for the input.
    No problem. I forgot to add, don't use diaper rash cream with oils or emolients in them. They are very difficult to wash out of shorts and the chamois. Not to mention, it might seep through the shorts and onto her nice new leather saddle. (in case you didn't know)Monistat makes an anti chafing gel that turns into a powder that is a great product you don't have to order offline which is where most chamois creams are available unless you go to the LBS.
    "Whatever you do in life will be insignificant. But it's very important that you do it." - Gandhi

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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by gardenrunner
    No problem. I forgot to add, don't use diaper rash cream with oils or emolients in them. They are very difficult to wash out of shorts and the chamois. Not to mention, it might seep through the shorts and onto her nice new leather saddle. (in case you didn't know)Monistat makes an anti chafing gel that turns into a powder that is a great product you don't have to order offline which is where most chamois creams are available unless you go to the LBS.
    Got that. Thanks.

  24. #24
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    I've used many saddles over the years. SMP Glider works for me. You can choose your width and padding. I hear of quite a few guys that love them but not many women mention them. I think the shape freaks some people out. They're pricey, but worth every penny IMHO.

  25. #25
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    Update....I got my wife to adjust her sitting position...moving her butt towards the back of the seat where she sits directly on her sit bone. She has been riding over the past week and has gotten use to the new riding position and seems to be ok now. Thanks gardenrunner and to those who have contributed.
    Last edited by arcustic; 09-01-2010 at 11:28 PM.

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