This is the Rhythm of our Lives: A Comprehensive Guide for Women’s Hydration

Water
Hydration for women

Different bodies, different needs: hydration is hardly a one size fits all phenomenon.

Every body operates on its own finely tuned balance of water, electrolytes, and minerals. This means you should not only hydrate according to your weight, but at the very least also your current environment, health condition, and physical output. 

Furthermore, the distinct physiology of a female body demands its own set of hydration needs, which vary considerably throughout different periods of a woman’s life. The bodily fluctuations women endure affect how much water they should be drinking.

Providing the right amount of water for your current condition helps your body work more efficiently: keeping you cool, regular, and energetic. 

This article is an all-encompassing guide on hydration for women at every period and stage of their life. 

Hydrating to the rhythm of your moon cycle 

The monthly fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone associated with menstruation affect our moods, appetite, and internal fluid dynamics, impacting our ability to hydrate effectively. 

There is a spike in progesterone which occurs just before you start your period in the luteal phase. The increase in hormones reduces your available plasma volume by 8%, making your blood thicker, increasing your body temperature, and reducing the amount of oxygen available for your body to create energy. This means you might feel more tired than usual and could also decrease your tolerance to heat. 

During the luteal phase, it’s critical that you hydrate with ample electrolytes as elevated progesterone levels increase the loss of sodium from your body. Drinking at regular intervals helps counteract the diminished thirst sensitivity caused by wacky hormones and keeps you safe from dehydration. 

At the beginning of your period, the low levels of progesterone and estrogen can cause your body to retain water, leaking fluids into surrounding tissues instead of remaining in the blood vessels. This can leave you with that despicable period bloat. Despite this heavy feeling of water weight, your blood vessels are still thirsty and require the same replenishment that you would normally provide. Resist the urge to drink less water. 

Can drinking water help relieve period cramps?

A recent study has suggested that drinking water could help reduce several of the uncomfortable realities of periods. Not only did drinking sufficient water shorten the overall length of bleeding in the participants of the study, but it also helped reduce the severity of their cramps.

A “considerable decrease in using pain killers was observed,” related to fewer complaints about period cramp pain among participants who drank water in regular intervals based on a strict protocol. 

Guide on hydration for women at every period and stage of their life.

Optimize your hydration with sodium

Getting the right balance of minerals in your water can help improve your athletic performance. Women, in particular, need more sodium and potassium to hit that next level of physical fitness compared to men. These two electrolytes are incredibly effective at transporting water into the blood.

Try adding a small pinch of sea salt to your pre-exercise glass of water. This hyperhydration tactic helps to suppress the signals that normally tell your kidney to expel excess fluids, allowing you to retain the augmented water stores for when you might need them in the midst of heavy exercise. 

Breast milk is about 90% water

Becoming a mom is a joyous and overwhelming occasion. Breastmilk offers the perfect balanced portions of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and nutrients as well as meeting all your baby’s hydration needs––after all, your breastmilk is 80-90% water. It’s critical that breastfeeding mothers nurture their own bodies with plentiful water to meet the demands of two people. Your water intake should increase by roughly three glasses a day. 

Try to drink one 8-ounce glass of water before and after each feeding, in addition to a glass with each meal. This regimented approach to hydration will guard against any lags in milk production as a result of dehydration. Bear in mind, however, that drinking more than your usual amount of fluids will not increase your milk supply, even if not drinking enough water can impact it. 

The nursing body is a wonder of nature: as soon as you begin breastfeeding, the hormone oxytocin will trigger an increase in thirst cues to remind you to drink plentifully. 

Women are at greater risk for “water intoxication”

There can be too much of a good thing: drinking an extortionate quantity of water can counteract its normally cleansing effect.

Normally your body is able to expel any surplus liquids through sweat or urination. However, an excessive intake of water sustained over a longer period of time can lead to water intoxication. This condition, also known as hyponatremia, occurs when the extra fluid dilutes the optimal sodium concentration to below 135 millimoles per liter (0.4 ounces per gallon) where the healthy concentration hovers around 135 and 145 millimoles per liter. What happens is that the fluids move inside our cells, causing them to swell. The physiological imbalance hampers our ability to expel the excess fluids and affects the regulatory processes which take place in the background. 

The reason that women are much more likely than men to suffer water intoxication is largely due to their comparatively lower body weight and size. Take small sips throughout the course of your day instead of chugging water all in one go. 

All systems are slowed

The risk of hyponatremia increases once a woman hits menopause. For one, your body’s ability to rid itself of water slows in comparison to pre-menopausal standards. Plus, the decrease in estrogen and progesterone, hormones that impact body fluid regulation and cardiovascular function, causes a change in the physiological response to sodium loads. Women who use estrogen-based hormone therapy need to pee less, thereby increasing sodium and fluid retention. 

How much water should a woman drink? A guide to hydration for women.

Why so dry?

It’s once again the drop in estrogen that affects the lack of overall moisture characteristic of menopause. The plump of youth fades as a woman advances through menopause and the quantity of water in her body plummets down to 55%. As the sense of thirst wanes with age, the signs of aging become more pronounced. 

The aches and discomforts of menopausal symptoms––from constipation and bloating, to hormonal headaches and dried-out joints––are all aggravated by dehydration.

 This means that drinking more water can help with everything from diminishing menopausal nausea, hot flashes, headaches, and bladder irritation. 

If you are among those who are sweating significantly during hot flashes, you’ll need to replenish even more to compensate for the lost fluids. Consistency remains the best defense: your sense of thirst may fade so drink regularly throughout the course of the day. 

Drink some water

It’s no easy task contending with the drastic changes which mark the life of the female body. With plenty of fluctuations to deal with, one of the greatest things a woman can do for her health is to drink sufficient water, adapted to the needs of her body at that particular moment. 

By Natalia Kvitkova — Jul 28, 2021
The information contained in this article is provided for educational and informational purposes only, and should not be construed as health or nutritional advice.

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