Cycling is simply an exercise or sport of riding a bicycle. It is a low impact exercise. Unlike other forms of exercises, it places less stress on the joints and is a preventive method against arthritis.
Periods are very natural but they can make you feel so unfortunate, that you think you cannot continue your exercise or your favorite activity, especially when the cramps set in. As a lady you would always find yourself there, you definitely cannot afford to keep taking pauses of your life every time your period comes. You’re left with the resolve to knowing how to manage your body when that time of the month comes.
Cycling And Menstrual Phases
A menstrual cycle is simply a monthly change in hormonal production or structures in the uterus and ovaries that makes pregnancy possible in a woman. There are three menstrual phases and for each phase there are ways to take care of the body, especially as a cyclist.
This is the pioneering phase, when the thick lining of the uterus is eliminated. It lasts for a period of three days to two weeks. The flow tends to be heavy, and the oestrogen is low at this point. The insulin is at it’s peak, and this makes the body to burn carbohydrates instead of fat. As a cyclist, there should be an increase in your consumption of carbohydrates and glucose to keep you energized while cycling.
The Follicular phase
This phase, along with the menstrual phase makes the first half of the menstrual cycle. This phase lasts for a duration of 5-14 days. It comes with so much abdominal and waist cramps. This is a good time to ride on your bike and stretch your pelvic muscles to ease yourself of the cramps. Intense trainings or exercises are not advisable here.
At the end of this cycle, there is an increase in estrogen level, causing a growth in the FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), which is responsible for the development of the ovaries. This means the body is preparing to produce a new egg. While this hormones are on the rise, your body becomes strengthened for any form of intense training.
This phase is around day 12-14 of your cycle, when the follicular phase is coming to an end. The estrogen and testosterone are at their peak and the body goes back to burning carbohydrates. It is time to return to slow-release foods, gentle rides and endurance training.
The progesterone becomes the dominant hormone after the egg is released. This phase is a little difficult because the body starts reverting back to the menstrual phase. Feelings of fatigue, nausea and other PMS symptoms are triggered and you might start to feel cramps again. Go easy on yourself while cycling and just enjoy your ride.
Tips For Cycling During Periods
It takes some level of self motivation to get on your bike during periods, there’s no perfect formula to cycling on days like that, find your comfort zone, and enjoy it for the number of days it will last. There are simple tips to guide you.
Pads are the worst sanitary products for cycling. They can get extremely irritating from continuous movements you make around the saddle, especially when you sweat. Chamois are not suitable enough to bear pads, they do not have smooth surfaces to enable the pad stick, so there’s a high chance of it moving and getting you messed up if you try to use it anyways. Sweating in pads and rubbing on it makes you prone to infection.
Tampons are recommended, they are much more hygienic because you don’t have to sit on them while making movements. They’re also more comfortable and easy to tuck in. However, women who experience vaginal dryness shouldn’t use tampons. Leaving tampons in the body for too long could also result in Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), go with extras so you can always stop to change up.
Menstrual cups are highly recommended too. They are most popular amongst cyclists because they are easier to us. They collect, rather than absorb the flow and that makes it peculiar to other types of sanitary products. They are also reusable.
Drinking enough water can help you exercise better when you’re on your period. It helps to avoid cramps when cycling.
Bib shorts with chamois are good while cycling. They are thick and can absorb sweat and flows during period. They do not really require underwear or extra pads, but if your flow is heavy, you can use a tampon or menstrual cup. Getting a good pair of Bib is necessary for cycling.
Cycling And Spotting
If you ever wondered if cycling causes spotting, Yes it does! And not just cycling, any exercise can cause spotting.
The severity of spotting after cycling depends on how your body responds to stress during exercise. If cycling is your most frequent activity, it can cause hormonal changes in your body. The most important part of cycling that leads to spotting is the strain it adds on the mid section area of your body.
Negative Effects of Cycling In Women
Cycling looks like a sport that involves only the legs and thighs, but as much as it involves those parts of the body, the genital areas are also actively involved in the exercise.
Talking about Vaginal pains can be very uncomfortable because it’s easy for third parties to assume that you’re careless or infected. But the more we talk about them, the easier it is for people who suffer them for reasons like this to speak up freely. During cycling, the vagina is continuously subjected to chafing, heat and pressure due to the saddles. Saddles can be discomforting due to the padding and width of the saddle. They affect the position of your body on it and lead to further concerns like, leg differences, body alignment and limited use of muscles. Uncomfortable saddles can cause the vaginal lips to press painfully on the saddle during movements, it’s leads to labial adhesions and bleeding. Getting a comfortable saddle is not very easy, you’re advised to visit a bike specialist and be confident enough to speak up.
to live with periods is one of the greatest
parts of embracing femininity. It’s okay if you want to take a break from cycling during periods, but don’t let it be much of a hindrance to participating in your favorite activity, go ahead and enjoy your ride!