Horse riding has been the greatest joy of my life ever since I sat in the saddle for the very first time. After years of dedication and training, I managed to turn my passion into a lifestyle and become a professional rider.
Only equestrians know how much commitment, patience, and hard work it takes to be a part of the horse world. Only equestrians can truly understand the struggles, pain, and stamina it takes to pursue our passion.
While I have been riding I often experienced discomfort and pain in my intimate area. After I did my research on the problem, I found out that 2 out of 3 riders deal with the same issue! I was shocked. How come we don’t talk about it?
Here are 7 common equestrian intimate health issues that we don't (but should) talk about:
No matter whether you are a professional or an amateur rider, it is completely normal to experience pain in your most delicate zone even after a short ride. Your entire perineal area, genitals, ischium bone, as well as, some major nerves and vessels of your body, are constantly affected by repeated friction your body makes with the saddle.
- Skin irritation
Saddle sore is a skin irritation that occurs in the area where you are in contact with the saddle. It is mostly caused by chafing and sweating. Chafing usually affects the inner thighs and groins. This annoying result of rubbing back and forth against the saddle leads to extremely painful abrasions.
Sweating may lead to an inﬂammation of the base of a hair follicle (folliculitis) and boils. Folliculitis in its early stage is usually pretty painless and tends to clear up on its own. If neglected, it may lead to your skin being itchy, burning and tender. Occasionally folliculitis turns into a boil, swollen pus-filled bump, which can keep you off your horse for a long time while it heals.
- Saddle Paresthesia
Saddle Paresthesia is described as a tingling and numbness sensation in the buttocks, perineum, and groin caused by compression of the lower spinal cord and nerves. This dull and heavy feeling is often accompanied by regular or intermittent pins and needles. Saddle Paresthesia, if untreated, may lead to coordination and balance problems, urinary or fecal incontinence, sexual dysfunction or even permanent damage of the neurological tissues.
- Loss of sensitivity
Regardless of gender, one of the possible consequences of saddle paresthesia is a complete loss of sensitivity in the intimate area. Those who suffer from such sexual dysfunction, although able to physically perform, may not be able to feel sexual stimulation.
- Urinary Tract Infections (Female Riders)
The area of a woman's body closest to the saddle, especially if not properly secured by bacteriostatic, breathable undergarment, typically contains a multitude of bacteria. According to the Women to Women Health Care Center in Maine, repeated movement, your body makes with the saddle, can push bacteria into the urethra - tube transporting urine out of your body. Once inside, bacteria travel up, sometimes causing infection that reaches as far as the kidneys.
Common signs of the Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) include blood in urine, cloudy urine, strong urges to urinate frequently, pelvic pain in women and rectal pain in men. According to Mayo Clinic, women remain at greater risk for such infections than men.
- Prostate Enlargement (Male Riders)
Friction and bounce movement of a saddle sometimes aggravates the male prostate gland, located near the bladder. If you are a male rider already suffering from an enlarged prostate, frequent riding often worsens the condition. In addition, as prostates swell, they place pressure on the bladder, sometimes causing symptoms similar to urinary tract infections.
- Urinary Incontinence
In case of riders, urinary incontinence (involuntary leakage of urine) is the result of decreased structural support of the pelvic floor. It is due to the increased abdominal pressure during high-impact exercise and the impact your body makes with the saddle.
It is important to recognize that, although the above-mentioned conditions are common for horseback riders, they are easily preventable and treatable.
I spent several months researching, talking to other riders and consulting my findings with doctors and physiotherapists. I tried out various products available on the market and finally came up with My Riding Underwear. Perfectly padded, comfortable and fully reliable. It does not only protect you from physical trauma, but, due to its bacteriostatic properties, rapid transpiration and high elasticity, can also prevent other riding-related health conditions such as UTIs and saddle sore.
I started working on my underwear in order to solve my own problem. The more I worked on, read and spoke about it, the more I realized that this small piece of garment can be a true life-changer not only for me, but also for other equestrians, amateurs as well as professional athletes.
As the “elephant in the room” that no one wants to speak about, raising awareness about the equestrian intimate health issues is the first step towards reaching effective riding interventions.
Keep on riding. Stay healthy.