Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a problem among men that gets more prevalent as they get older (1). It affects approximately 30 million men worldwide.
One reason commonly tied to erectile dysfunction is dehydration. Being dehydrated can affect your sex life — from lack of libido to erectile issues.
Besides, not drinking enough water can cause various unpleasant emotional and physical symptoms that you might not immediately notice, such as dizziness and fatigue.
Erectile Dysfunction and Dehydration
For you to get an erection that leads to an orgasm, many of your body’s systems have to be in sync. They all have to work together — from the nerves around your penis to your blood circulation. If one of these systems does not work correctly, erectile dysfunction may take place.
Hydration is highly essential for your body’s systems to work well. Without it, your body will suffer. Complications may occur, several of which can lead to erectile dysfunction.
A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that even mild dehydration could impair men’s cognitive performance and mood. Dehydration also increased tension and anxiety among subjects, even when they were at rest (2). Since your mental state can affect your sex drive, the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research stated that stress, anxiety, and nervousness could contribute to erectile dysfunction (3).
Additionally, drinking more water increases the volume of your blood cells and allows blood to flow properly through your penis’ veins. On the other hand, drinking less water does the opposite. When this happens, your penis cannot get enough nutrients and oxygen to sustain an erection.
Dehydration also causes the body to release a hormone called angiotensin, which tightens blood vessels. This disrupts proper blood flow through the body (4), including the penis.
Thus, there’s no doubt that erectile dysfunction and dehydration are linked to each other.
Signs of Dehydration Leading to ED
Dehydration means that your body takes fewer fluids than it loses. If not remedied, dehydration can get worse and lead to erectile dysfunction.
According to the UK’s National Health Service (5), here are the signs of dehydration that you should watch out for:
- Feeling thirsty
- Dark yellow pee
- Strong-smelling pee
- Peeing little
- Peeing less than 4 times a day
- Feeling tired
- Dry lips, mouth, and eyes
Signs of severe dehydration include:
- Low blood pressure
- Little to no sweating even in hot climates
- Fast heart rate
Causes of Dehydration Resulting in ED
1. Not drinking enough water
This is the primary and most straightforward reason for dehydration. It’s either you don’t drink enough water because you’re too busy or sick. It might also be because you don’t have access to safe drinking water when you’re camping, hiking, or traveling.
2. Too much sweating
Sweating causes your body to lose water. If you often do intense workouts and other activities and don’t drink water right after doing them, you will be dehydrated. Hot and humid weather also increases sweating, which leads to more fluid loss.
Frequent diarrhea can cause a large amount of water loss. It can decrease your body’s electrolytes as well. Excreting loose and watery feces more than three times a day can be dangerous.
Vomiting can also cause dehydration. You don’t just lose water when you vomit, but you may find it difficult to replenish your body with fluids because of vomiting. Vomiting for more than once a day can be dangerous.
5. More frequent urination
Taking certain medicines, such as diuretics and some blood pressure pills, can result in dehydration. It’s because they make you urinate more than you usually do. Undiagnosed or untreated diabetes can cause increased urination, too.
How to Prevent Dehydration
Since it’s been established that dehydration and erectile dysfunction are linked, here are ways to keep yourself hydrated:
- Take the right amount of water you need every day.
According to Dr. Seifter of Harvard, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to hydration. Ideal water intake varies from one person to another. So, you should check with your doctor if you’re getting the right amount or not (6).
- Drink water even if you are not thirsty.
Avoid waiting until you feel thirsty to drink. Make sure that you’re drinking water throughout the day, also if you are not thirsty.
- Remind yourself to drink water.
If you find yourself too busy to drink water regularly, you can set an alarm every one or two hours. This is useful in reminding you to drink water continually.
- Make sure that you have access to water all throughout the day.
If you are camping, hiking, or going to the gym, make sure that safe drinking water is within your reach. Bring a big bottle of water, especially when you’re out during hot days.
- Eat balanced meals.
Water may be the primary way to stay hydrated, but the right amount of fruits and vegetables can hydrate you as well. Food provides approximately 20% of your hydration needs, according to a study published by the British Nutrition Foundation (7).
- Avoid alcoholic drinks.
The Medical Center of Aurora said that alcohol is a diuretic. Hence, alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer make you urinate more. Frequent urination leads to dehydration, so you better avoid alcoholic drinks.
What Do You Do Now?
Now that you have learned more about dehydration and erectile dysfunction, it’s time to take a look at yourself.
If you have been suffering from dehydration for a few weeks, you should consider seeing your doctor as soon as possible. If you choose to do so, give your doctor as much information as you can about the signs and frequency. Your doctor will tell you how to restore your sexual function.
Erectile dysfunction is an uncomfortable condition that you probably don’t want to talk about, but not discussing it with a doctor will just make matters worse.
Remember, prevention is and will always be better than cure. So, avoid dehydration and consequent erectile dysfunction by talking to your doctor.