Not in the Mood? Dehydration May Be to Blame
We've all been told we need to drink more water, and staying hydrated is often heralded as a cure for everything from skin issues to weight loss. While we can't speak for all the claims, hydration can impact your body's overall health—and your sexual health.
That's right, not getting enough water can have some serious implications for your sex life. Not only are you less likely to feel up to the task, but dehydration can also make having sex more difficult.
Not drinking enough water can lead to decreased sexual desire
Are you finding it difficult to get in the mood lately? Does sex feel like a chore? Dehydration may be to blame.
Dehydration has been linked to decreased sexual desire in men, according to a small 2018 study published in the journal Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management. Men who were less hydrated were found to have lower testosterone levels, a key hormone responsible for a man's libido.
But women may also experience decreased sexual desire when dehydrated.
"Certainly, if a person is feeling the effects of dehydration...they are not feeling themselves and, thus, may not want to engage in sexual activity," said Christy Boraas, M.D., an OB-GYN and assistant professor at the University of Minnesota. "Plus, if dehydration is causing vulvar itching or pain, many people will likely be worried about worsening those symptoms or sometimes be embarrassed by them, causing people to avoid sex."
"Hydration can improve blood flow and, hence, oxygenation/nutrient delivery to the sexual organs," said Kecia Gaither, M.D., an OB-GYN at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln in the Bronx in New York City.
Dehydration can make things a bit drier down there
Even if a woman is feeling aroused, sometimes things just aren't as wet as you'd like them to be down there. While many factors could be at play in this case, something as simple as dehydration could be the culprit. Not consuming enough water can lead to vaginal dryness, making sex uncomfortable or painful, according to a 2019 article published in the EPMA Journal.
"Dehydration has multiple effects in one's body: headaches, fatigue, dizziness, altered mood, to name a few," Boraas said. "And when we become dehydrated, certainly there can be changes, usually temporary, of the vagina and vulva, too. The skin of the vulva, the labia majora and minora, can become dry, leading to itching, redness and cracks and pain."
If you're frequently finding it difficult to stay lubricated, it could lead to a lessened overall sexual desire.
Dehydrated women may experience more vaginal infections
Women who don't drink enough water regularly may also be prone to developing infections. Vaginal dryness, an occasional byproduct of dehydration, can lead to more frequent vaginal infections.
Vaginal dryness can mess with a woman's pH levels, and when your pH is off, you may find an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the vagina. This can lead to bacterial vaginosis (BV), vaginitis and yeast infections.
Infections such as these can make sex more painful and cause itching or irritation, all of which can be a major turnoff.
Humans are made up of 70 percent water, so water is critical for the function of our bodies. Dehydration means more difficulty getting oxygen to our tissues, and without oxygen, cells—including those in the vagina—can't function well. Healthy vaginal cells are critical for maintaining an acidic, healthy pH level in the vagina, Boraas said.
Other ways dehydration can hurt your sex life
Dehydration is sneaky and can impact your body in different ways. It's been widely known to cause headaches, which can make it more difficult to want sex in the first place, while also making it harder to enjoy the act.
In addition, dehydration may impact your cognitive thinking abilities—such as your response time, mood and level of attention—though this effect may be more prominent in older adults. As a result, you may find it more difficult to focus during sex or, if your mood is disrupted, you may have less desire for the deed.
Will drinking more water cure your low libido?
Water is often touted as a miracle cure for many problems. While we do know that staying hydrated can improve your mood and overall bodily functions, it's difficult to say if water can cure any sexual issues you're noticing. Unfortunately, there are too many other factors that could also be at play—and everyone's body is different.
While you may want to try to fix your dehydrated vagina at home, doctors advise you stay away from douching.
"Many people may be tempted to consider douching to help counter the effects of dehydration in the vagina, but this practice is really not recommended as it can further negatively affect the pH and normal, good bacteria in the vagina," Boraas said.
If you're not sure dehydration is affecting your sex life, it's easy to test the theory by upping your water game to see if your sexual desire increases. If you're noticing decreased sexual desire or physical symptoms such as vaginal dryness, drinking more water could improve your symptoms. You can also use external lubricants on your vulva or other areas that feel dehydrated, Boraas said.
Lastly, be sure to talk to your doctor if you're experiencing symptoms for more than a few months.
In the meantime, bottoms up!