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Can Dehydration Cause Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?By Danny GarrettMay 17, 2023 6 min read Updated: May 25, 2023
Before exercise, It’s recommended that you ensure you’re hydrated. When we do sports, hydration is commonly considered. It’s typical to grab a bottle of water to take to the gym with you or hydrate before you go for a run. However, water intake is probably one of the last things you think about before having sex.
Sex is one of the most pleasurable forms of exercise. During which, you’ll notice many of the usual effects associated with exercise. These include sweating, an elevated heart rate, heavy breathing and even the need to rest and recover once you’ve finished.
So what happens if you have sex when you’re dehydrated? This article explores some of the possible signs that you are dehydrated during sex and examines whether dehydration can cause sexual dysfunctions such as erectile dysfunction (ED).
Can dehydration cause ED?
There is currently an insufficient amount of research to say whether dehydration can cause erectile dysfunction. Some of the research suggests that there may be mutual risk factors for both dehydration and ED. Before we start, let’s clarify what both of these terms mean:
Dehydration can be defined as a loss of body fluid content due to less fluid intake or an increase in fluid loss. The typical symptoms of dehydration include feeling thirsty, having a dry mouth, headaches and feeling lethargic or fatigued.
ED is a sexual dysfunction that results in men being unable to maintain a firm erection for long enough to enjoy sex. ED can be caused by a number of factors including mental and physical health conditions or lifestyle factors.
Due to a lack of direct research on dehydration and erectile dysfunction, we examined the risk factors for each area and explored the mutual links. We’ve highlighted some of our findings below:
A large cross-sectional study separated its 3327 participants into groups based on their daily water consumption. It found that individuals who drank under two glasses of water each day had a higher risk of experiencing depression.
The study found that people who drank under 2 glasses of water each day had a 73% and 54% increased chance of depression in both men and women. Depression is a mental health condition commonly linked to an array of sexual dysfunctions one of which is erectile dysfunction.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
There may be a relationship between dehydration, chronic kidney disease and erectile dysfunction. Research acknowledges a link between dehydration and acute renal dysfunction (reduced kidney function), it also notes that in Central America recurrent heat associated dehydration could be a major risk factor for CKD. Erectile dysfunction is thought to be common among patients with chronic kidney disease, with ED estimated to be prevalent among 80% of CKD patients.
Hyperglycemia is a condition in which a person's blood glucose is higher than 125 mg/dL while fasting, after which point they are considered diabetic. Hyperglycemia is a risk factor for dehydration because the body needs more fluids than usual to flush excess glucose through urine. Diabetes is also associated with sexual dysfunctions, with the prevalence of erectile dysfunction in diabetic men said to be between 35% and 75%.
If you’re having sex whilst under the influence of alcohol, it’s possible that you’ll experience the symptoms of dehydration as well as temporary erectile dysfunction.
Alcohol consumption increases the amount a person urinates, which can result in dehydration. Research also notes the significant link between alcohol consumption and erectile dysfunction. So, if you’re experiencing ED and dehydration while drunk, there’s a good chance that alcohol consumption is the contributing factor to both.
How does dehydration affect sexual function?
Although further research is needed before dehydration can be established as an erectile dysfunction cause, individuals who are dehydrated may be more likely to experience damaged sexual performance. Research states that even mild dehydration can have a negative impact on psychomotor skills (a combination of cognitive function and physical movement).
Individuals who are dehydrated may be more likely to experience damaged sexual performance
Sex is an activity which requires physical capability such as endurance while thrusting and the physical ability to maintain an erection. However, it also requires cognitive ability with examples including being able to stay in the present moment and effectively communicating with your partner. If these key skills are affected by dehydration your sexual performance may suffer.
How do I know I am dehydrated?
Although the symptoms of dehydration are likely to be the same in most situations, it’s important to consider symptoms in the context of sex. For example, feeling dehydrated at your desk in work is likely to affect you differently compared to dehydration during sexual activity. Being able to identify the symptoms of dehydration during sex could be crucial and we’ve explored how some of these may be presented below.
A dry mouth
One of the symptoms of dehydration is that your mouth or tongue feels dry. Mouths get used frequently in sexual intimacy for kissing or during foreplay. If you find that your mouth or tongue feels particularly dry it could be a sign that you’re dehydrated and need to replenish your fluid levels.
Lacking concentration and headaches
We’ve already established that dehydration may impact cognitive ability. Other studies suggest that individuals who are water deprived may experience a drop in concentration levels and experience migraines. If you find that you are struggling to stay in the present moment or have a painful headache during sex it could be a sign of dehydration. .
Feeling fatigued or lethargic
Feeling like you lack energy can be a symptom of dehydration. If you find that during sex you’re feeling tired or drowsy it may be due to dehydration. Tiring during sex such could be down to general fatigue from a long session. However, if you notice other symptoms of water deprivation it’s possible that you’re dehydrated.
What to do if you’re dehydrated
In order to treat dehydration it’s important to replace the fluids that you’ve lost. If you have mild or moderate dehydration you may be able to achieve this yourself by drinking water. In more severe cases of dehydration, individuals may need to seek medical assistance and receive treatment for the condition. In such cases, fluids may be administered intravenously (known as IV where fluids are received through a vein) with studies showing that rehydration is faster when fluids are administered using an IV.
In more severe cases of dehydration, individuals may need to seek medical assistance and receive treatment for the condition.
If you suspect that you’re dehydrated during sex (or any other setting), it’s important to stop any intense exercise that could lead to further fluid loss. Although suddenly stopping during sex may feel a little embarrassing, explaining the issue to your partner and taking steps to replenish your fluids is crucial to becoming adequately rehydrated.
When to seek professional help
In severe cases of dehydration medical help may be required to replenish your fluids. However, as with any health related matter you should always exercise a “better safe than sorry” approach. If you believe you require medical assistance with any level of dehydration, consult a medical professional for guidance.
How common is dehydration?
According to research, dehydration has been reported to occur in between 17% and 28% of older adults in the US. Furthermore, dehydration is considered a common cause of hospitalization. Despite the condition leading to potential fatalities, it can complicate the treatment of other medical conditions and may be overdiagnosed. If you believe that you are suffering from dehydration you should consult a medical professional for treatment immediately.
Why does dehydration happen?
Dehydration takes place because an individual loses fluid faster than it’s being replenished. Dehydration can occur for a number of reasons, including forgetting to drink water regularly, being exposed to high temperatures without drinking water and through fluid diminishing illnesses such as diarrhea. When you’re sick the phrase “keep your fluids up” is often used and for good reason.
How Can You Prevent Dehydration?
In order to prevent dehydration, an individual needs to ensure that their fluid levels remain at a healthy amount. This involves drinking regular water and if necessary, planning ahead to ensure that a water supply is always accessible (such as during long hikes or while exercising).
In order to prevent dehydration, an individual needs to ensure that their fluid levels remain at a healthy amount.
Being familiar with the symptoms of dehydration (e.g. headaches, dry mouth, fatigue) is crucial for recognising it and preventing mild dehydration from escalating.
How much water should you drink?
The recommended amount of water can vary depending on age. However, adequate daily intake for men and women between the ages of 19 and 30 is 3700ml and 2700ml respectively.
Although there is limited research on whether dehydration causes erectile dysfunction, there’s a strong chance that dehydration will affect your sexual capability. For example, symptoms of dehydration during sex may include a lack of energy, a dry mouth or tongue and the presence of headaches. It’s important to replenish fluid as you use it (for example through sweating or illness) in order to prevent dehydration.
If you believe that you have mild or moderate dehydration you may be able to replenish your fluid levels yourself.
However, if you have concerns about any level of dehydration you should always consult a medical professional for guidance and treatment. Although the information in this article is intended to be informative it cannot be considered a substitute for medical advice.
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