October 11, 2023

New UAntwerp cycling outfit helps advance research on saddle pain in women

The University of Antwerp is launching a glitzy new cycling jersey that will allow alumni, students, staff and enthusiasts alike to express their love for the university. 10% of the sale price will go through the University of Antwerp Fund to the research of Hedwig Neels, who is identifying the problem of saddle pain in women.

The initiative

The brand new UAntwerpen collection includes both men's and women's models for the summer and winter seasons. 10% of the proceeds each time, VeeloHeero donates to a local charity. For the UAntwerpen outfits, this is Hedwig Neels' research at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy.

"Many women start cycling, but drop out sooner due to ailments or problems. We want to address those or even prevent them," says Neels, who is an avid cyclist himself.
Never stop

In recent years, there has been a remarkable increase in female cyclists, but complaints about saddle sores are equally on the rise. "These complaints have a significant impact on their sporting ambitions, but also on their sexual lives. It mainly concerns complaints of pain, but also skin irritation and swelling in the genital area and tingling or numbness. And that causes both discomfort and embarrassment!" says Hedwig Neels.

Can't a bikefitting, a different saddle, the right cycling shorts or protective skin creams provide relief? "Yes they can! We see that there are good products on the market that can already make a significant difference! But a lot of solutions and products do not (yet) have a scientifically proven effect. So we are setting up a large-scale study to better map all the factors and really learn which preventive and treatment options can bring improvement and prevent saddle pain," says Neels.

"So far we have learned that saddle sores really do affect the vast majority of women cyclists. Some don't think it's so bad, but we see that for many women it does have a strong impact on their sport and sex life. We need to do something about that. With funding we also want to test three new treatment techniques to better remedy existing complaints. Techniques that are less invasive and hopefully work better than the surgical procedures that sometimes have to be done now.

Every woman is unique.

"We don't expect to find the one perfect product. Our female anatomy is also not really made to spend hours on a bike. So we want to be realistic and know that, despite good tips and prevention, we also need to offer solutions when complaints continue to surface. Finally, we also want to launch a major campaign to bring saddle complaints more out of the taboo. Let's make complaints and solutions discussable, that way we will hopefully keep more women in the saddle," Neels said.

"Ambition and eagerness to persevere are not lacking! But finding funding for such research projects,is not easy. We don't save lives with it, of course. That is why we hope to find more support from sponsors to establish a chair!  
So professional cycling teams or partners in the sports industry who want to work with us are very welcome," she adds.
You can find UAntwerpen's new cycling jersey on the VeeloHeero website: www.veeloheero.be
Donations and support can always be given through The Pelvic Floor University Fund Antwerp for Research. Or just contact us!
Also listen to our interview on Radio 2
More tips and info on saddle sores and other intimate discomforts?
  • Contact us and stop by for an examination
  • Stay Tuned!!! Follow us on Instagram and Facebook!
  • Read the chapters written by Hedwig Neels in Velo Vrouwen, the cycling guide for every woman! Published by Elke Bleyaert at Lannoo
  • Also read Hedwig's informative blogs at www.thewomenpeloton.be


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