There are a lot of theories about why women don’t ride bikes as much as men, but here’s one I’d never heard until today: That it’s hard for ladies to ride while they’re on their periods. Crazy, right? Well, apparently not. Grist’s Elly Blue wrote about the issue yesterday, revealing that there seems to be a big divide amongst female cyclists, between those who do and those who do not have problems riding a bike when they’re menstruating. So, my question is: Do you?
I don’t. (Hence my initial shock at Blue’s post.) Of course, at the height of my headaches and cramping, I’m more likely to be found eating burgers than on my bike, but still: I ride my bike on my period all the time. I also run, do yoga and lift weights when I’m on my period. It doesn’t feel as awesome as it does when I’m not on my period, but I can still do it, and I usually tend to believe that it makes me feel better overall when I do. So is Blue just a big wuss? Is she writing about tampons and stuff to be “edgy” (as her editor apparently found the topic to be)? Apparently not; she’s definitely not the only one who locks up her bike while she’s on her period.
An unscientific survey of friends revealed that there are, in fact, serious athletes who just don’t like to hop on a bike during that time of the month. One responded: “Um, yes! Especially if I’m wearing a pad — chafing. And thin shorts with a tampon don’t help much either.” Another shared the results of her experiments with bike seats to alleviate the problem:
Have you seen the crotch-friendly bike seats? They’re mostly for men, but they rock for women, too. Especially the ones with the ultra-padded saddle and the hole.
And Blue explains that it’s not just chafing or tampons that keep her off her bike:
…for the past 21 years of my life, everything has slowed down to a crawl for two days a month. Heavy flow, exhaustion, hideous cramps, sore muscles, and a brain-sucking sense of doom mean that getting on a bike, much less off the couch, can be a real struggle. This is often when I do my best thinking and writing, but going anywhere is a pure drag.
I thought my period sounded bad. It turns out, Blue has a point: Actually a lot of us have problems doing stuff when we’re on our periods, but we don’t talk about it. Which not only indicates that we still have problems discussing our biology publicly, but it’s also a disservice to women who would benefit from things like advice about bike seats and which kind of feminine products go best with a bike.
So for our own benefit, let’s discuss: What’s going on with your period and bikes?