Part 2 - Hydration and Fertility
Fundamental Pillar #2: Nutrition
The second fundamental pillar of fertility is nutrition. Now I know that nutrition for fertility is a huge topic, too much to write about in a blog post. So I will give you a condensed version with easy action items that you can implement starting today.
This post will discuss hydration which for most of us is easier to do. The next post will address food so be sure to stay tuned.
You may be wondering - why is she talking about hydration. Why is that important? How is what I drink and how much I drink related to fertility?
Water is the liquid of life, without it we would die. Up to 60% of the human body is water! Your blood is 85% water, your kidneys and muscles are 80% water, your brain and heart are around 75% water, and even your bones are watery - with 30% water.
In fact the rule of three for survival states that humans can survive for three weeks without food, three days without water, three hours without shelter and three minutes without oxygen. Our bodies, in a sense, need water more than they need food.
Yet many people are dehydrated. They either don’t drink enough water or they don’t drink it frequently enough throughout the day. Some people drink a lot but they drink the wrong drinks. For example, caffeinated drinks like coffee or soda can be dehydrating and can sabotage your water drinking efforts. The biggest signs that you’re dehydrated include inability to sweat, dry skin, bad breath, dark urine, and urination less than six times a day.
So water is important for your overall health. But how is it directly connected to fertility?
First of all, water keeps all of your organs and cells functioning properly including the reproductive cells (egg, sperm) and reproductive organs (brain, ovaries, uterus, testes, thyroid). This is extremely important for fertility. The egg is filled with fluid - and that fluid is made of water. Think about it - your eggs (and the man’s sperm) are made out of water. So to make healthy eggs you must drink water.
Secondly your body makes cervical mucus which changes throughout the menstrual month. Prior to ovulation the cervical mucus becomes very stretchy (like an egg white) and as you get closer to ovulation your body makes more of it. This stretchy mucus is supposed to help the sperm travel up towards the uterus and then to the fallopian tubes for fertilization. The more hydrated your cervical mucus is the more easily the sperm can travel through it. Studies have found that thick cervical mucus with low water content is the most difficult for sperm to penetrate. Without enough water the cervical mucus that balances vaginal pH can become too acidic and this change in pH can harm the sperm. Having little to no cervical mucus can be an indication that you’re dehydrated.
Finally, your cells need water for proper cell division and metabolism. This affects proper development of the fertilized egg into a blastocyst and its ability to implant in the uterine wall. And the cells in the uterine wall must be properly hydrated for implantation to be successful.
For men, semen production and semen volume can be reduced by not drinking enough water. If semen is thicker due to dehydration, sperm may have trouble swimming. So make sure your husband also follows the instructions below.
So how much water should you drink?
Unfortunately, using thirst as a strict guideline isn’t so reliable since people are busy throughout the day and don’t always register their body’s messages.
You can use your urine as a guide. The color should be pale yellow like lemonade. If it is a deep, dark yellow then you are probably not drinking enough water. If it is colorless, it might mean that you are drinking too much water which can cause salts & other electrolytes in your body to become too diluted. A healthy person urinates on average about 6-8 times a day. If you haven’t urinated in many hours, that’s an indication that you’re not drinking enough
A general rule of thumb for water intake is to drink 33 milliliters per kilo of weight per day. That’s roughly 2 liters per day. Remember - if it is hot out - you need to increase your water intake.
The next important factor is the timing. It is important to space the drinking out throughout the day so that your body can absorb the water slowly. If you drink it all in one shot - you run the risk of having much of the water excreted in your urine and not be absorbed into your cells and tissues. In addition - time your water intake so that you finish your allotted amount by around 7 pm so that you won’t need to wake at night to go to the bathroom.
Tips for proper hydration:
● Start your day with a large glass of water to rehydrate. You breathe out a small amount of water every time you exhale when you’re sleeping. If you sweat at night, you’re also losing water.
● Set recurring water break reminders on your phone.
● If you're not a big water drinker, here's a suggestion that some find helpful. Fill up a big cup of water every morning. Then set an alarm on your phone to go off every two hours during the day. When it beeps or buzzes, or sings (whatever you have your alarm ringtone set to), that means it's time to refill your water glass. Is that glass still full from the last time you filled it? Drink up!
Remember - if you’ve been drinking less than optimal for a long time your body has been in survival mode, not thrive and create-a-baby mode. It may take some time to slowly rehydrate.
Optimal fertility starts with the basics – water being the most critical ingredient to life. Make it a daily habit to drink enough for your reproductive needs and make sure your partner drinks too!