Got Vagina(?!) and Love to Bike?
I was recently on DrRadio Channel 110 – SiriusXM with the wonderful Dr. Miriam Greene from New York University Medical Center. When I am on the show with her, we try to help educate women on perimenopause, menopause and post- menopause. We chat a bit and then people can call into the show with their questions. If you haven’t tuned into her radio show – it is a must. She is so smart and hilarious – and provides her listeners with real sound, fantastic no-holds-barred advice.
Dr. Greene and I often schmooze a bit during commercial breaks. I was amazed to hear some of her stories about things that can happen to women who bike.
I do love to ride my bike. I wouldn’t call myself a cyclist per se as my bike is just a cruiser with three speeds. I usually keep it on #3 speed and never use the hand breaks – still use the pedals. Old school – I know!
Dr. Green has a couple of patient stories to share with us! She said, that she has been a witness to at least 3 different stories where cycling and the vagina don’t mix well. However, if you do a lot of cycling, think about these patient’s experiences when you’re having “issues”.
This one required a little surgery…. Ahem!
In this instance, my patient had an unusually long labia minora. (We lay people refer to this as the lips.) This can be genetic or as years go by the labia majora loses fat, and with walking, jogging, or cycling the labia minora will rub together and lengthen. (Oh dear, I walk and/or ride my bike every day…….I need to check mine now. Labia get back to you later on this!!!)
Every time my patient cycled, the labia being unprotected became irritated and painful. A minor office procedure called a Labiaplasty can solve the problem. (This can be performed under local anesthesia 0r as an outpatient with anesthesia and sedation.) She was back to cycling in 4 weeks. Pain-free. (Labiaplasty is a plastic surgery procedure for altering the labia minora (inner labia) and the labia majora (outer labia) – the folds of skin surround the vulva. BTW most of us never use the word vulva. Vulva is the proper name for our outer genitals. I call the whole kit(ten) caboodle my vagina. Pun intended!
This involved a young 22-year-old. She called me concerning irritation and burning on the left upper thigh and vulvar area. She loved cycling. The chronic rubbing of her thighs with pedaling induced severe mechanical stress to the thigh area. When I saw the lesions, all blistered and red it appeared to be shingles and guess what! It was Shingles. WOW, diagnosing this 22-year-old with shingles threw me for a loop. I treated her with an anti-viral called Valacyclovir. She recovered, but of course, this episode further convinced me that cycling and the vagina may not mix.
The final case which according to Dr. Greene, “Gets the Oscar for best cycling story.”
I received an email with a photo from a patient who was in the Emergency Room. Why? Her entire right leg was bruised, swollen and about 5 times the size of her other leg. The pain she was experiencing was so very intense that she needed a strong narcotic, Dilaudid, to quell the pain. The ER staff was bewildered as to what was wrong with the leg…was it a blood clot, vasculitis, Lyme disease? Nooooo…! I knew that this patient was an avid cyclist so I asked: ‘Did you recently ride?’ As a matter of fact, my spouse and I just completed a 100-mile ride over the course of 4 days. Aha… I explained that she probably ruptured a small blood vessel in her thigh muscle. Over time this slowly bled into the thigh muscle creating what we call a compartment syndrome …blood in an enclosed space! The pressure was so intense the bleeding eventually stopped, but not without causing enormous pain and disfigurement. Once the bleeding stops the blood will reabsorb and the condition will correct itself.
After a 2-day hospital stay and multiple tests, all professionals agreed that the cycling was the cause. It would take weeks to months before complete reabsorption occurs. In the meantime, this has limited this patient’s activities …she’s starting physical therapy next week!
So, there’s nothing more to say except…….Tennis anyone?!
My Motto: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!