When it comes to your sex life, have you suddenly turned into the little engine that can’t be bothered? If you find yourself losing steam in the bedroom but can’t figure out why, dehydration could be to blame. “How can I be dehydrated?” you might be asking. “I never feel thirsty.” Thirst is just one of the ways your body tells you it’s dehydrated; there are many other ways your body could be signaling you — including a comatose libido.
Dehydration is serious business — when you’re not adequately replenishing your body’s water reserve, feeling thirsty is one of the last signs it gives you before it starts retaliating. If your mouth is feeling dry or sticky, your muscles are more easily fatigued than usual, if you have dry skin, and you know, if you haven’t peed since the turn of the century, these are all signs that your body’s throwing you a bone.
Dehydration + libido = Womp, womp
Dehydration can contribute to vaginal dryness (oy to the vey), fatigue (“Not tonight, honey.”), headaches (the classics never go out of style!) and irritability (that thing where he tries to initiate and you try to punch him in the face). Really, your sex drive doesn’t stand a chance — and neither does he.
“Being sufficiently hydrated is important for female sexual response, in part because it may facilitate natural lubrication, and also because it can make it easier to experience orgasms,” says Patricia Johnson, co-author of Partners in Passion: A Guide to Great Sex, Emotional Intimacy and Long-term Love. Plus, dehydration equals less oxygen being delivered to your sex organs — in other words, you’ll find yourself handing out missing posters for your vagina.
More likely than not, you’re dehydrated and you don’t even know it. Like, right now. Researchers estimate that 75 percent of the American population is dehydrated, so you’d better start ordering your water with a side of water.
The key is to consistently hydrate your body throughout the day. Though everybody’s different, according to researchers 1.5 liters daily (which comes out to roughly six cups) is a solid guideline to follow.
Basically, don’t just hoover some H2O and expect your sex life to be cured. “It takes time for hydration to reach your body on the inter-cellular level, meaning that the fluid has reached all the cells in your body,” says Johnson. Start hydrating about 12 to 24 hours before nookie and drink water consistently throughout the day, one cup at a time.
How do you know if you’re hydrating enough? Check your pee: If it’s darker, drink more H2O. If it’s clear, pale or straw-colored, congratulations — now, celebrate your hydration with a good ol’ romp in the sack. And for every hour of strenuous activity (bow chicka wow wow!), drink another one liter (four cups) of water.
Also, about the whole headache thing…
For those of us who legitimately forgo sex because of a headache: “Often a headache is our body’s signal that we’re becoming dehydrated,” says Johnson. Before popping an Advil, try drinking a tall glass of water and see how you feel in 20 minutes. “Chances are, your headache has vanished and you’ll be able to focus on the pleasurable activities you’re planning.” Don’t mind if I do!
A version of this story was published August 2014.
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