Don't worry, I know it's a sensitive matter, but perineal numbness from cycling is something that the majority of us have gone through before.
I'm assuming you were in the middle of a long bike ride when nature called. Of course, you tended to it as you normally do.
Everything worked as it should, except for one small thing... You couldn't feel it. Your one eyed snake was there doing his stuff, but you couldn't feel that crisp, cool breeze rustling through his hair.
For first timers this a horrible experience to have. But have no fear, read this article to find out what's going on, and learn ways to prevent it from happening again.
Perineal Numbness From Cycling
The numbness you're feeling is in an area of the body that's called the Perineum (the undercarriage bit of your groin). This numbness is when nerves, in particular, the Pudendal Nerve is compressed.
Now, I know I've hilariously used images of walnuts in this article, but groin numbness from cycling affects women just as much as men. For a man, it's his penis, and for a woman, it's her labia and clitoris.
Perineal Numbness Treatment?
So we're clued up on the medical terms for a numb knob, now let's look at some of the methods available to prevent it from ever happening again.
It's not always easy to pinpoint what's causing the problem. You just need to experiment and see what works.
Below are your main culprits, and you should investigate them first.
First off, is overall riding position. It could just be that you were in the zone, and you got yourself into a poor riding position without realizing.
If you shift around and notice a tingly feeling as blood rushes back to your groin, you'll know you were in a poor position.
Pay close attention when you're riding, and move around occasionally to stop this from happening.
Leaning forward too much on your saddle is a very easy way to place too much pressure on your perineum.
Forward lean initiatives forward hip rotation and transfers your weight on to the danger zone.
To see if you've got the correct amount of reach, you'll need a friend.
If like me, you don't have any of those, you'll have to find a way to see your reflection.
A reflection spot I highly recommend using is living room windows.
But be warned, if the people inside mimic calling someone and shut the curtains, you know it's time to move on.
However you check it, the goal is to make sure that your arms are perpendicular to your torso, with your elbows being slightly bent when they're resting on your handlebars.
Seams In Your Shorts
The seams in your shorts can cause an issue as well.
A common complaint from the seams in shorts is saddle sores.
At the same time, the seam can pinch nerves or blood vessels in the crotch.
Wearing higher quality cycling specific shorts can sort the issue, as they're typically designed to be seamless.
Check out my best padded shorts guide if you think your clothing is causing the problem.
Perhaps not surprisingly having the nose of the saddle pointing upwards too much will cause you trouble as well.
When you're off the bike, take a look and make sure that the top of the saddle is parallel to the ground. A parallel saddle will allow your sit bones to carry most of the weight.
To alleviate pressure on the perineum altogether, you could put the saddle completely vertical and sit on it like that.
It's quite probable that this would cause other issues, but you certainly wouldn't be numb anymore.
If you're noticing yourself rocking back and forth on your saddle, then it's too high, and it will be putting too much pressure on your Perineum.
Here's a great article detailing how to set your saddle height correctly.
A good start is to have the saddle at the same height as your hip bone, and then adjust it from there.
Sometimes it only takes small increments to make a huge difference so experiment and see what works for you.
Best Bike Saddle To Prevent Numbness?
If you've tried all of the above and are still having trouble, it'll be your saddle that's causing you issues.
You'll need to find a way to relieve pressure on the nerves around the area.
Thankfully, many saddles are now made with "cut-out" sections to address this.
But the size and shape of the saddle still need to match your shape and physiology.
Saddles are like your genitals... They're personal.
As this is something that can make or break a good bike ride, I've spoken about choosing the perfect saddle here.
Bike Seat Hurts Balls?
Assuming you've not just hit yourself on the top tube of your bike, then something is most definitely wrong.
When the pudendal nerve is compressed, it can affect people in different ways.
Again, it will come down to incorrect positioning or incorrect saddle choice, so follow the steps above like you would if you were numb.
If you're experiencing any numbness or pain down there, then get it sorted straight away.
You may only get it after longer 4hr+ rides, or the numbness might disappear after a day or two so you think it's OK, but it really isn't.
Think of it like this...
If you had a hose pipe and consistently ran over it with your car, it would most likely spring back to action at first.
But over time it would eventually become deformed and stop working.
The same applies to you.
Stop your privates from becoming a flat hosepipe, and address your perineal numbness from cycling.