For Glamour, by Korin Miller.
“Drink more water” is probably one of the most common pieces of health advice out there. Among other things, experts say, it can help improve your skin, help you feel more energetic, and boost your immune system, so clearly there’s a lot of benefit to it.
But you’re not alone if you find you end up drinking less H2O than you should. If promises of great skin and more energy don’t entice you, here’s another incentive to keep in mind if you’re trying to increase your water intake: It’s good for your vagina. Really!
“A healthy vagina needs the same hygienic attention as any other part of the body, similar to the way we care for our face,” points out Sherry A. Ross, M.D., a women’s health expert and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period. “The skin of the vagina is susceptible to dryness if not taken care of properly.” When your body isn’t properly hydrated, the outside skin of your vagina — including the labia majora and labia minora — are more likely to be dry, Ross says. The same goes for the inside of your vagina: If you’re drinking enough water, your vagina should be well-lubricated.
But the opposite is also true: Failure to drink enough water can dry you out down there, especially since the vagina has sensitive skin. If your vagina is regularly dehydrated, you can get itchiness, burning, and pain down there, Ross says — and it could lead to or exacerbate a yeast infection.
Here’s why: The inside of your vagina is normally acidic and is perfect for the protective organisms that live in there, Dr. Ross says. Anything that disrupts this delicate balance could lead to issues like an infection, dryness, itching, or burning. “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,” she explains.
How much more water are we talking about? The amount you actually need every day depends on a few factors, including how active you are, but the Mayo Clinic says that most people should aim for eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day. (Just keep in mind that alcohol and caffeine dehydrate you as well, so you may want to drink a little more water than usual when you have either.)
Of course, water intake alone isn’t the key to a healthy vagina — there are other factors, like your diet, exercise, weight, sexual health practices, and hygiene, that make an impact too — but it can help. “More than drinking water will need to be done to keep the vagina healthy,” says 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. “However, it does definitely improve the healthy state of the vagina.”
So try to have a little more water every day if you can. If you’re not a “water person,” add fresh fruit or herbs to your H2O to give it a little flavor and incentivize you to drink more. Your body — your whole body — will thank you.
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