Importance of Water for Fertility

Importance of Water for Fertility

June 16, 2020

Many people understand the importance of drinking enough water but they don’t overcome the perceived inconvenience of it to make it part of their routine.  The problem is that allowing yourself to become dehydrated causes more inconvenience because it can be a significant contributing factor to your fertility issues.  Something as simple as drinking enough water can be the turning point for you.

Staying hydrated is critical when trying to get pregnant.  You can survive weeks without food.  But as little as a few hours without water.  For example, a child left in a hot car or an athlete exercising hard in hot weather can dehydrate, overheat and die in a period of a few hours.

Why hydration is essential when TTC

50-70% of your body weight is water.  Your blood is 85% water, your muscles 80%, your brain 75% and even your bones are 25% water, which indicates how important water is for your health.

Water keeps all of your organs and cells functioning properly including reproductive cells (egg, sperm) and reproductive organs (brain, ovaries, uterus, testes, thyroid).  It also naturally flushes out toxins in the body. 

In fact, water accounts for more than 70% of a cell's total mass.  That includes your eggs and the cells lining the uterus.

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.

For the fetus, staying hydrated is critical for fetal development.  Water helps carry nutrients to the placenta and is an important part of all aspects of development from the time of fertilization. Without water, a developing baby cannot survive, increasing the risk of miscarriage.

For women, dehydration can affect...

  • Healthy egg maturation because without sufficient water, your body can't process nutrients and hormones. 
  • ...which leads to dehydration interfering with or preventing ovulation
  • The cervical mucus, which is important in transporting the sperm to the fallopian tubes for egg fertilization.  Having little to no cervical mucus can be an indication that you’re dehydrated.  You should see 2-3 days of egg white, stretchy cervical mucus around ovulation.  Without enough water, the cervical mucus that balances vaginal pH also becomes too acidic, harming the sperm.  
  • Implantation -  Water is necessary for cell division and metabolism. The cells of the uterine wall must be healthy for the embryo to implant.

How much water to drink?

  1. Use thirst as a guide to ensure your individual needs are met, day by day.   However, a rough guideline is to drink half your weight in ounces of water.  
  2. Use your urine as a guide. 
    1. Color - If it is a deep, dark yellow then you are probably not drinking enough water.  If it is colorless, you are drinking too much water which can cause salts & other electrolytes in your body to become too diluted.  Ideal color: pale yellow like lemonade
    2. Frequency - If you haven't urinated in many hours, that too is an indication that you're not drinking enough.  A healthy person urinates on average about 7-8 times a day.
    3. Amount - very little volume indicates dehydration

Water quality

Make sure to check the water quality of your main source of drinking water such as your tap water using a digital tool like this.  An ideal level is less than  50ppm TDS (total dissolved solids).

Water filters come in varying shapes and sizes.  

  • The most inexpensive are water pitchers with built in filters.  However, they are the least effective.  
  • The most effective water filters use reverse osmosis.  Countertop filters and filters that attach to the sink are a mid-price option and what I recommend for most people.
  • The most comprehensive (and most expensive) filters are whole house filters that purify all water in the house since it’s attached to the main plumbing line.  This option is suggested if you own your house.
  • You can get RO filtered water from water dispensers outside large chain supermarkets.  Make sure to test the water with each batch to ensure that the filters have been changed.

Water containers

  • Glass and stainless steel water containers are best.
  • DO NOT USE plastic bottles!  Even if they’re BPA-free.
    • BPA (bisphenol-A) mimics estrogen, and therefore can have estrogenic effects in the body causing infertility including low sperm quality.  BPA increases aneuploidy, a defect consisting of abnormal loss or gain of chromosomes, which could lead to miscarriages or disorders such as Down Syndrome.
    • Plastics, including BPA-free, leach chemicals that act like estrogen in our bodies.  Conditions that are known to release these harmful chemicals are heat, putting them in a microwave or dishwasher or leaving a plastic water bottle in a hot car.  Microwaving the containers or placing hot liquids or food into them releases BPA 55 times more rapidly!  But even  normal contact with food or water was enough for these chemicals to leach into the food and the water because they are unstable.  Some of the chemicals that are in the BPA-free plastics actually have been found to have greater estrogenic activity than BPA itself.
    • Babies in utero may accumulate these chemicals in their systems passively.

Actions to stay hydrated:

  1. Drink a glass of water upon waking to replace water loss from sleeping.
  2. Buy water tester and check water quality.  
    • If water quality is >50 ppm, get a better water filter with reverse osmosis filter.  
    • If water quality is <50ppm, you’re good.
  3. Replace plastic water bottles and plastic drinking cups with glass, stainless steel, or ceramic.  
  4. Use filtered water when cooking.