Those 6-8 glasses a day can have a huge impact.
Being dehydrated is the worst. The crankiness, the headaches, the dizziness, the sluggishness, not to mention the super yellow (and vaguely disturbing) pee, and the far more serious symptoms that could take hold if you don’t address it. But while you’re chugging water in an effort to stave it off, is it possible that your vagina could be dehydrated?
Kind of. If you’re dehydrated, says Dr. Alyssa Dweck, an author and practicing OB-GYN in Westchester County, NY, your vagina can be affected. “Dehydration can disrupt the delicate balance of good yeast and bacteria in the vaginal microbiome,” Dweck says. “Disruptions can lead to vaginal infections, like yeast infections. It’s not as widely discussed as the digestive microbiome, but maintaining the vaginal microbiome should also be a priority, as it plays a vital role in supporting overall feminine health.” Dweck recommends taking a probiotic meant for vaginal health if you’re prone to infections.
We know vaginas get dry, but that’s not the same thing as being dehydrated, and while not drinking enough water can upset that balance Dweck refers to, vaginal dryness isn’t necessarily related to how many bottles of H20 you consume on the daily. (Although dehydration can result in the skin on the outside of your vagina, the labia majora and minora, being dry, as well as in itching and painful sex.) According to Dr. Carolyn DeLucia, a good indication that you’re particularly dry in the vaginal region is if toilet paper is sticking to you. ”
Vaginal dryness can be caused by a lot of things, say Dr. Ashley Winter, a San Diego based urologist specializing in male and female sexual dysfunction, and the co-host of the podcast The Full Release. These include hormone fluctuations, brought on by childbirth, breastfeeding, menopause and thyroid issues, but also by birth control pills – between three and five percent of people taking a low dose of the pill encounter vaginal dryness. If you have tight pelvic muscles, points out Winter, the decreased blood flow to your vagina and the opening can also result in a dry vagina, but most common cause is not enough foreplay (which, incidentally, is probably connected to a disinterest in sex and a lack of orgasm).
Of course, the treatment for vaginal dryness depends on the cause. It’s not always about hormones, confirms DeLucia.” Hormones play a big role, but so does just being well hydrated drinking 4 glasses of 8 ounces a day.” In general, says Dr. Neha Singh Rathod, maintaining personal hygiene is key to good health – but avoid vaginal douches and creams. Keeping away from smoking and cooling it in regard to drinking alcohol might also help. If it turns out that you are dealing with a hormonal imbalance (which can be confirmed by your doctor), you might be prescribed a topical cream or suppository to deal with the lack of estrogen. According to the Mayo Clinic, there’s also an option called Osephena, which can be take orally, but isn’t for folks with a high risk of breast cancer, or who have had it.
“Using good quality lubricants can help, but they might not solve the underlying cause,” says Rachel Gelman, DPT, PT, and Branch Director of the Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center in San Francisco. In other words, it’s absolutely necessary to confirm the source of your vaginal dryness instead of just reaching for the lube.
The good news is that there are no severe long term effects associated with vaginal dryness that has to do with not drinking enough water. “To say this will impact your period or fertility is a stretch,” says Dr. Angela Jones, Astroglide’s resident sexual health advisor. Again, ascertaining the cause of the dryness is key to maintaining and protecting your reproductive health, not to mention your sex life.