- Dehydration can actually have a large impact on your sex life.
- When you’re not adequately hydrated, your body might react in plenty of surprising ways that you might not think are related to how much water you’re drinking.
- Being dehydrated can impact your sex life – from headaches and fatigue preventing you from getting in the mood, to erectile issues and vaginal dryness.
- Here are the signs you should look out for when it comes to your sex drive and water intake.
When you’re not drinking enough water, your body can react in some seriously weird ways, including sleep disruption, headaches, and dry skin. But one of the most surprising signs of dehydration involves your sex life, because being dehydrated can have both physical and emotional effects on your bedroom routine.
From fatigue and irritability, which could secretly be killing your sex drive, to erectile issues and vaginal dryness, here are the ways that dehydration can affect your sex life, and how you can remedy the situation.
Not drinking enough water can cause a host of unpleasant physical and emotional symptoms that you might not immediately link to your fluid intake, such as fatigue and irritability to headaches. But how exactly does this impact your activity between the sheets?
A 2011 study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that even mild dehydration impairs cognitive performance and mood in young men, showing a marked increase in anxiety and tension even when at rest.
- Dehydration can impair cognitive performances and mood in young men.
- yacobchuk/ iStock
This link exists with all genders, though, which makes sense. After all, how easy is it to get in the mood when you’re feeling tense and anxious?
It turns out that drinking enough water and stress levels are actually closely linked. Our bodies need enough water to run efficiently, and when we don’t have enough, that can impact just about everything from the inside out.
Registered dietitian Amanda Carlson told WebMD that “studies have shown that being just half a liter dehydrated can increase your cortisol levels,” adding, “Cortisol is one of those stress hormones. Staying in a good hydrated status can keep your stress levels down. When you don’t give your body the fluids it needs, you’re putting stress on it, and it’s going to respond to that.”
Of course, drinking more water won’t magically lower your stress levels, but it will help your body respond to outside stressors more seamlessly. And the less stressed you are, the more likely it is that you’ll want to get it on.
If you’ve ever experienced a throbbing headache on a hot day or after a rigorous workout, or even just when you’ve failed to get in those six cups of water that day, you know firsthand how important it is to remain hydrated. And when your temples are pounding, you’re probably not excited about the prospect of having sex.
- When your head is pounding from dehydration, you probably don’t want to have sex.
- vadimguzhva/ iStock
“Often a headache is our body’s signal that we’re becoming dehydrated,” explains Patricia Johnson, co-author of “Partners in Passion: A Guide to Great Sex, Emotional Intimacy and Long-term Love,” who recommends drinking a tall glass of H2O and taking an over-the-counter pain reliever of your choice, and waiting it out a bit. As Johnson told SheKnows, “Chances are, your headache has vanished and you’ll be able to focus on the pleasurable activities you’re planning.”
Dehydration can also cause dry skin, which can be the culprit for more than just chapped lips and itchiness. It turns out that if you’re dehydrated, your vagina might be too.
Vaginal dryness can cause pain during sex, which probably won’t make you excited about the thought of getting busy. But can not drinking enough water seriously dry out the skin down below?
Yes, says Sherry A. Ross, M.D., a women’s health expert and author of “She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period“. Dr. Ross told Glamour magazine that “A healthy vagina needs the same hygienic attention as any other part of the body, similar to the way we care for our face,” adding, “The skin of the vagina is susceptible to dryness if not taken care of properly.”
- Dehydration can lead to vaginal dryness.
- George Rudy/Shutterstock
That dryness can occur on the skin outside the vagina (the labia majora and labia minora) as well as the skin on the inside, and failing to drink enough water can lead to itchiness, burning, and pain down there … all of which can cause or exacerbate a yeast infection, says Dr. Ross.
The vagina has a delicate pH balance and a healthy vagina is normally acidic, but dehydration can send that balance out of whack, upping your risk for a yeast infection. “Yeast and bacterial infections occur when there is a disruption of the normal pH balance caused by dehydrated skin in and around the inside of the vagina,” explains Dr. Ross.
Of course, it’s worth mentioning that “more than drinking water will need to be done to keep the vagina healthy,” explained Jessica Shepherd, M.D., an assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology and director of minimally invasive gynecology at The University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago. Dr. Shepherd told Glamour, though, that remaining adequately hydrated “does definitely improve the healthy state of the vagina.”
Dehydration can also impact your ability to orgasm, as Johnson told SheKnows. She said, “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.”
The better hydrated we are, the more oxygen we have traveling through our bloodstream, helping things run smoothly all over the body. That also includes our sex organs, which need all that oxygen to help us climax more easily.
According to Healthline, there’s a solid link between dehydration and erectile dysfunction as well, and it might surprise you. Just as our bodies need sufficient oxygen to run properly overall, they also need that oxygen to help get and maintain an erection, due to the need for adequate blood flow to those sex organs.
- There is a link between dehydration and erectile dysfunction.
- paolo81/ iStock
In 2009, French researcher Simon N. Thornton looked at the link between erectile dysfunction and hydration levels, finding that blood volume impacts erectile function. When fluid levels fall, the body responds by releasing angiotensin, a hormone that can cause blood vessels to constrict or tighten, according to Healthline. This prevents blood flow throughout the body, which includes the penis.
There are tons of reasons why it’s important to drink plenty of fluids even when you don’t feel thirsty, but how much water is actually necessary to stay hydrated?
Of course, we’ve all heard the classic “eight glasses of water a day” rule, but there are so many variables, based on a person’s overall health, climate, and activity level, to getting enough H2O. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if you’re feeling thirsty, you might already be already experiencing dehydration, so drinking enough water throughout the day is never a bad idea, even if you’re not particularly thirsty.
Plus, alcohol, caffeine, and salty foods are all dehydrating, so you’ll want to increase water intake alongside these foods and drinks. And if you’re exercising heavily, feeling ill, or in hot and humid weather, you’ll definitely want to guzzle enough water accordingly.
- Drinks lots of water alongside dehydrating drinks.
- Aleksandrs Muiznieks / Shutterstock
Paying attention to your body’s hydration can benefit you in more ways than you’d think, so drink up as often as you can.
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In the Stone Age, people were wily hunter-gatherers who ate everything they killed or grew. Little would have gone to waste because throwing away food meant potentially not having anything to eat the next day.
Fast forward to today, and it is a troubling but undeniable truth that modernity and evolution have bred absurdly nonchalant attitudes to food. And nowhere is this more evident than with food wastage, which has proliferated in tandem with the abundance and ease of access to food.
According to the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization, one third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally – this translates to 1.3 billion tonnes a year. In Malaysia, government agency SWCorp Malaysia estimates that locals generate 15,000 tonnes of food waste a day!
While many local organisations like Food Aid Foundation have risen to the task of collecting surplus food from hotels and food discarded by supermarkets to send to soup kitchens and orphanages, few other endeavours seem to exist.
Which is what makes pop-up restaurant ReTaste in Sweden (restaurangretaste.se) so interesting. The restaurant operates contrary to almost every known dictum in the F&B world: it collects food discarded by supermarkets and transforms whatever (and whatever is the key word here) it receives into delicious food.
- Osborne (left) and Ekman are the co-founders of ReTaste.
- Svensson has been named by the Culinary Institute of America as one of the Plant-Forward Global 50 chefs and is renowned for his plant-centric menus.
“The idea of creating a restaurant using the food waste from supermarkets came to the team seven to eight years ago. However, when approaching supermarket partners at that time, there was resistance rather than a willingness to get involved at that time. It was not an issue that they were keen to discuss,” says Ruth Osborne, ReTaste ambassador and co-founder of Retired Hen, the consulting company behind the restaurant.
“However in the past few years, food waste has become a hot topic and off the back of three of our team taking part in wastED London (the food waste pop-up from Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, New York) we decided to have another attempt at bringing it to life. Now many supermarkets were happy and proud to be part of the discussion and wanted to enable change through being part of the solution.”
Food that might typically be discarded in homes or restaurants are given new life at ReTaste, like this dish of bread pasta ravioli, broccoli cream, sause beurre blanc and ground elder, which makes use of mature broccoli.
ReTaste is a collaboration between Retired Hen, which handles the project development and management of ReTaste; and Pauls Kok, a kitchen consultancy company that provides direction, inspiration and recipes and helms the day-to-day operational end of the eatery.
Osborne and her partners – chef and co-owner Paul Svensson (named by the Culinary Institute of America as one of the Plant-Forward Global 50 chefs) and chef and co-owner Christofer Ekman – are running the pop-up on a six-month trial run which ends in October, and so far, response has been so encouraging that even Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden has dined there.
The restaurant works with two supermarkets – COOP and Willys and visits one or the other each week to collect food discards. Food is collected on Monday and Tuesday mornings and the restaurant is open on Wednesday and Thursday nights, so creativity and ingenuity has to be applied constantly as there is a two-day turnaround period and no telling what the restaurant will get on any given day. In MasterChef terms, it’s like being given a mystery box of ingredients day after day with no end in sight.
“The menu changes week in, week out as the produce is completely unpredictable. However, there are a few things that we always get. About 80% of the collection is fruit and vegetables, with some bread and small amounts of meat and dairy. It’s pretty much the proportions for how we see a balanced diet – plant-forward with some cereals, meat and dairy on the side. It’s fun to have to think outside of the normal and apply high-end chefs’ skills and techniques to whatever lands in our delivery van each week,” says Osborne.
So what can you expect to eat at ReTaste? The menu is both eclectic and inventive, making use of techniques like dehydration and fermentation to extend the life spans of foods. Some foods are repurposed – a mature broccoli might find a second career as a stuffing while off-cuts are used to add flavour or texture.
Interesting sounding-dishes on the evolving menu include tartar of air-dried carrots and salmon head meat with a barbecued salmon head emulsion, fermented carrots and salad core. Then there is bread ravioli filled with mature broccoli flowers and fresh cheese made of one-week-old milk. Another unique menu option that the restaurant has served up is fermented cabbage beurre blanc and blackened broccoli stem.
Blackened cucumber with dill mayonnaise, fermented cucumber and elder flower vinaigrette.
“These dishes are created from products that we received both the same day and some weeks before. The whole idea is to preserve flavours at the same time we create dishes. So some of the products we get the same day are presented weeks later to force the conversation into: what do we consider is old food? And what are exclusive flavours?” says Osborne.
Although ReTaste works hard to use every bit of the food waste they receive, Osborne admits that some things simply cannot be consumed, but even these inedible items don’t simply get chucked into a bin.
- ReTaste rescues fruit and turns it into beautiful meals like this poached peaches with lilac sabayonne, cream parfait and sweet cicely and meringue.
- Whole baked carrot with grated salami and ramson.
“We have received many punnets of soft fruit where only one or two berries are soft and very overripe – these can’t be used and get thrown but then you are left with a huge amount of perfect fruit which would otherwise have been wasted that we can now turn into delicious meals for our guests. We try our best to find a use for as much as possible that comes into our kitchen. The food we cannot use goes either to compost or to creating bio-gas for the city transport. We don’t send any food to a landfill,” she says.
Even the tableware at ReTaste is sustainably made, and includes plates made from old waste clay and smashed blue mussel shells, compost and old coffee grounds.
The restaurant’s approach to sustainability even extends to tableware – water glasses are crafted from old water bottles, heat mats made from drink caps and a ceramist from Stockholm makes their plates, using old waste clay and waste products to create crockery made with smashed blue mussel shells, compost and old coffee grounds!
Given the modern obsession with perfect-looking produce and meals that resemble celebrity chef-worthy creations, ReTaste is a timely reminder that food shouldn’t be wasted simply because it doesn’t look ravishing.
“We all expect things to look a certain way, and the Instagram generation is sucked into the aesthetics of everything we consume which is adding fuel to what was already a fire. We need to cajole and encourage the consumer to try new things, embrace the taste and really see through the filter of perfection to the flavour that is harnessed in all foods that we have available to us – even if they don’t look quite as we expect or if one in the packet has gone soft and squishy,” says Osborne.
While ReTaste is still in its trial run, Osborne says they will be doing a full evalution after the period ends to look at the possibility of transforming the pop-up into a permanent restaurant.
“I think it would be very exciting to be able to take ReTaste around the world and help highlight this problem and inspire others to take it on within their communities. We plan to do a thorough analysis of what we have achieved and whether it could work long-term at the end of our six-month run. Watch this space!” she says.
A new American review (July 2018) has revealed how dehydration can affect cognitive function, with just a couple of hours of vigorous activity in the summer heat without drinking fluids enough to affect concentration.
Carried out by the Georgia Institute of Technology, the new meta-analysis looked at 33 studies with 413 subjects in total and focused on the effects of acute dehydration on cognition, which anyone can experience during exertion, heat and/or not drinking.
After statistically analysing the studies, the team found that functions including attention, coordination and complex problem-solving, suffered the most.
The results also showed that the majority of participants increasingly made errors during attention-related tasks that were mostly repetitive and unexciting, such as punching a button.
Activities such as reacting quickly when prompted also diminished, although not as much.
“The simplest reaction time tasks were least impacted, even as dehydration got worse, but tasks that require attention were quite impacted,” said the study’s principal investigator Mindy Millard-Stafford.
“Maintaining focus in a long meeting, driving a car, a monotonous job in a hot factory that requires you to stay alert, are some of them.
“Higher-order functions like doing math or applying logic also dropped off.”
The researchers warned that dehydration could even increase the risk of an accident, for example, in situations that combine heavy sweating and dangerous machinery.
As for when dehydration can occur and cause these mental lapses, the researchers say there is no exact rule.
However, from the studies included in the review, which looked at a 1% to 6% loss of body mass due to dehydration, it seems that more severe impairments start at 2% – a number also found in other related studies.
“There’s already a lot of quantitative documentation that if you lose 2% in water, it affects physical abilities like muscle endurance or sports tasks, and your ability to regulate your body temperature,” said Millard-Stafford, adding that, “If you weigh 200 pounds (90.7kg) and you go work out for a few hours, you drop four pounds (1.81kg), and that’s 2% body mass.”
”If you drop 4% or 5%, you’re going to feel really crummy,” she said. “Water is the most important nutrient.”
However, she warned that you can have too much water. “Some people overly aggressively, out of a fear of dehydration, drink so much water that they dilute their blood and their brain swells”, which can, in extreme cases, lead to death.
She also added that although too much salt is bad for sedentary people or those with high blood pressure, those who are sweating a lot need some salt in order to retain the water they drink.
The results can be found published online in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. – AFP Relaxnews