Water retention in men

Water retention in men is often more straightforward than it is in women since men do not have a monthly menstrual cycle.

In men, the causes of water retention can still be hormonal, but the hormone in question is more likely to be insulin. As we age our insulin can lose its effectiveness, so the body tries to compensate by producing more insulin. This happens in both men and women. High insulin levels interfere with the body’s sodium control, resulting in water retention.

This water retention is not always visible. It can just look like you’ve put on a bit of weight, but this weight is water as well as fat.

Men and oestrogen (estrogen)

High levels of the hormone oestrogen can also cause water retention. Just as testosterone is found in both men and women, so is oestrogen, although it plays a more important role in women’s bodies.

Oestrogen can be produced by body fat, so overweight men are more likely to have higher oestrogen levels. Many of today’s pollutants such as PCBs also have an oestrogenic effect, and men can be affected by this too.

Other causes of water retention in men

It may surprise you to know this, but you can suffer from both dehydration and water retention at the same time.

Dehydration is a common cause of water retention. When it is dehydrated the body learns to hold on to water in order to prevent damage to its vital tissues. Men are more at risk of dehydration than women because they are more likely to do manual work which increases sweating, or very active sports such as football. Men also tend to drink more alcohol, which has an extremely dehydrating effect.

Other drinks which cause dehydration are tea and coffee. Like alcohol all these drinks stimulate the kidneys to remove more water from the blood.

Most people need to drink much more water than is their custom. The minimum for men is two litres a day – more if you are physically active.

We also recommend reading causes of water retention.

About Linda Lazarides

Linda Lazarides is an international expert on water retention, author of eight books and founder of the British Association for Nutritional Therapy. She has successfully treated hundreds of people referred to her by doctors. See success stories or download E-guide.


  1. Thank you Linda for your help…I have water retention at least 5 months,the swelling of my legs hurt,my pennis and testicles so swallon,I walk I feel so tire,I can not handle this anymore,June 13 I have a colonscopy and scope,becouse the specialist said the swallow is relate with the heavy diarrhea that for 5 months do not leave me life,wish me all the luck to return to be normal person again.Thanks. Victor

    • Linda Lazarides says:

      Victor, do try to read the Waterfall diet book. It may not provide the whole answer to your problem, but you do need the knowledge if you are going to attempt to heal yourself. It doesn’t sound like your doctors really know how to cure this.

  2. sherry dookran says:

    could water retention damage you kidneys

    • Linda Lazarides says:

      Water retention can indeed occur if your kidneys have a problem. Your kidneys are responsible for extracting water from your blood and releasing it as urine, so if they are not working well, the water stays in your blood, usually causing swollen ankles and feet.

  3. Christopher says:

    I am 63 , 6ft and 19.5 stone . I was told I was a diabetic about 10 years ago . My doctors then put me on various medicines and are pleased that my blood tests covering everything , say everything is ok. However my ankles are very enlarged and I have started reading about what causes this . In the short term , what should I do . ( I know I should lose 3 stone , but I am in a very stressful job, the stock Market , and I drink about 100 units a week . Christopher

    • Linda Lazarides says:

      Christopher, we often subconsciously know what is causing our health problems, and you have mentioned both stress and alcohol. Both of these are highly disruptive to the normal workings of the body. There is no magic pill, only work as far as health is concerned. I hope my book may give you some guidance but you should also ask your doctor to check your heart and kidneys.

  4. I am a 47 year old man with severe water retention.. I also have many disc herniation’s in my back that prevent me from being active.. I am way overweight but i wasn’t i have gained over 100 lbs since i became immobile.. I have diabetes type 2 and take glipizide, i also take one a day vitamins, fish oil, nortriptoline, gabapentine, oxycodone,pantropazol,sulindac,senna,low dose asprin, @ years ago i hurt my back and the doctors here will not do anything for me.. I have 14 herniation’s in my back 12 in the thoracic alone. I have 2 fusions in the cervical and i have 2 more herniation’s in the lower lumbar.. I am still walking but no one knows how.. I cant feel my legs and half my arms and hands are numb as with my legs.. I have had many electrical tests done and according to the doctor with really bad results but he will not tell me what the results were.. The signal they were most concerned with was in my opinion was the signal that went from feet to head.. They did that test 5 times and i heard a lot of wow’s or this can’t be, and hearing him consult with a colleague asking “Did i read this right?” Or, ” When is the last time the machine has been checked?” And the clincher was “Good lord how long has this been going on, how is he able to walk?” And yet the spine specialists say i am not a candidate to be seen by them.. It has been 2 years and i find myself unable to walk the length of my home without pain or my back feeling a stabbing and immense pain that throws me to the ground.. I need something done i know that but recently for about maybe 1 month my legs get so full of water one leg the skin has split from the swelling, it still oozes today.. The doctor has put me on a water pill and gave a weeks supply 7 pills. I am afraid this wont go away.. What are your recommendations now that i have painted a picture of my health situation..

    • Linda Lazarides says:

      Gary, sadly this information doesn’t really help to identify what may be causing your water retention. The only way for you to find out is by learning more about the causes of water retention. That is why I wrote my book, to help people like you look beyond the limitations of medical treatments, to the connection between your health and what you eat.

  5. im 6ft and 25 yrs old. i weighed 6 stone 13 lbs and then 10-14 days later i weighted myself and i was 9 stone. my face and eyes were really swallon and my knees,ankles and feet were really swollen. my belly was really bloated and caould not belive the massive weight gain in a short space of time. my legs were really big and heavy could not run or play football. what is this problem as my doctor keeps saying i need to gain weight as i used to weigh 6 stone 13 lbs, but now weigh 9 stone please help

    • Linda Lazarides says:

      Az, the word weight can be very confusing since your doctor is talking about lean body mass and a sudden weight gain of 2 stones can only be caused by retaining water. I can only suggest you think about what you have been doing differently – maybe eating or drinking something new – to account for this change.

  6. Hi, I’m a 42 yr old male. recently i’ve had swollen feet and ankles, and also presistant diahria. what can I do to fix my problem

  7. My name is Steve. 11 months ago I had a spinal fusion surgery. The surgeon put me on testosterone injections because my bones were dangerously soft. Just a month ago I began having problems breathing at night. Went to doctor he put me on fluid pills and took me off of the injections and the topical cream. Within two weeks I lost 9 pounds and was breathing normal. Just last night I had problems breathing again. I went to the scales, I have gained 7 pounds in 5 days though I have been very active and eating pretty smart. I have always had a strong heart with no problems. I am sure doctor will send me to have my heart looked at now. Any suggestions? Thanks.

    • Linda Lazarides says:

      Steve, there must be a reason why your bones were so soft. Please could you take a good look at your past and present eating habits since these usually provide the reason for a breakdown in health. It is not enough to say ‘My grandfather ate the same as I do and lived to be 95’. We are all different and if you have poor eating habits which caused soft bones, then likely the same eating habits may eventually affect your heart too.

  8. Good evening linda
    hi im 30 year old male i would like to find out if i have the same kidney problems as my dad that passed away 3 year ago he was diagnose with
    pkd kidneys my symtoms are swollens ankels knees lower back and side pains coughing blood urine blood 4+ is and the sisters asked me on thurday if im diabetic what can i do about this dont realy sleep at night anymore

    • Linda Lazarides says:

      Kobus, unfortunately pkd is a hereditary problem, and swollen legs is a classic sign of struggling kidneys. This is something you really need to consult a doctor about, especially if you are coughing blood.

  9. I am a soccer player. I have always been around sports keeping a healthy life. Soccer is my life so my trainings have been really intense my whole life but this never happened before. I really need help because this is really frustrating and it is affecting the way i play. My legs get swollen when i am sitting down or standing. The worst is when i am running they start to swell and it feels like i am going to get cramps in both of my legs untill i have to stop running so i can start running again. This is really affecting my game because soccer is an endurance sport and it is essential to use my foot. My legs get too thight so i can’t move very well.
    I have been to every possible doctor and they have checked everything on me and i am perfectly fine. I feel like all this started on the summer 2013. I was preparing really hard to come to play college soccer in USA. I was doing conditioning and strenght training since may 2013. But in July i ate something that was already expired and i had fungi and yeast which gave me a really bad diarrhea. I took antibiotics and beofre going to usa i had no diarrhea. But i started to feel bad my running was not feeling sharp and my legs were feeling heavy. In august i noticed my legs were swollen but i thought i gained wieght because i stopped working out the diarrhea did not allowed to train. So i started training again hard. But diarrhea came back again and the swelling was worst. Since august 2013 till feb 2014 i was having diarrhea really often. I had more diarrhea than normal stools. Since february 2014 untill july 2014 i had straight diarrhea.there was not a single day i did not have diarrhea. A month ago the diarrhea went away but i keep getting the swelling. They did manyy tests on me during all this time and everything was working perfectly and something really amazing is that i even thought i had diarrhea for so long i was very well nourished.
    I REALLY NEED HELP soccer is my life and i do not know what else to do. this is affecting my game and i am so frustrated. I thinking on giving up to my scholarship i am thinking about quiting from soccer which is really heart breaking for me. I also get tested for food allergies. I have tried to avoid sodium, gluten free diet, dairy free diet, many others things. Nothing has worked for me. I really need help thanks.

    • Linda Lazarides says:

      Juan, I have recently retired from giving personal consultations, but depending where in the world you are, you can get a consultation with one of these natural health practitioners who has trained with me. http://www.naturostudy.org/practitioner-directory/?sort=20&dir=ASC&page=1. Otherwise a naturopathic doctor is your best recourse. It is probably a good idea to read my book first if you have not already done so. Water retention is a complex condition and you need to understand it.

  10. Hi Linda, I am 40 y old male , training regularly with weighs and hiit , i have very good diet control and taking protein mix( low carb mix) and amino acids (AA 3000 6 pills on training days and 3 pills on rest days )supplements , I noticed during the last 3 months my body is retaining water badly particularly in flanks and thighs, I reduced my daily salt, increased ingestion of greens which increase potassium level , and even consuming about 3 litters of water daily , but still couldn’t fix this problem. Any thoughts from you to help me!!

  11. i work 5000 feet underground for one week off and one week on… during the week im home im well aware i dont have the greatest diet, i may only eat a full meal every other day or so and simply snack throughout the day which i know is bad but ive been like thst my whole life and was very healthy and strong. During my week of work its much different i eat full meals almost every day and very large lunchs at work and i also drink lots and lots of water since its approciamately 35-40 degrees down there i sweat a lot. Recently ive been watching my sodium intake and realized its approxiamately 175-200% of what im suppose to be cpnsuming in a day. Now my problem is i have excessive sweating at time randomly with very little work and seem to overheat regularly and cause sickness or dehydration, but thats only the begining recently ive put on about 15-20 pounds and have almost constant abdominal pain and during my work week slight constipation… all im wondering is yes im going to watch my sodium intake but is that the only cause? concerned 23 year old male

    • Linda Lazarides says:

      Andrew, any severe or persistent symptoms must be reported to a doctor, so you should consult one as soon as possible for your abdominal pain. Until the cause of this is properly investigated, I would not like to try to guess what might be causing your weight gain. As you know, eating right is extremely important, as well as drinking water to replace the fluid you are losing. If you are sweating out large amounts of water then some extra salt is not going to do you any harm as you need to replace the salt you are sweating out. But do try to visit the nutrition advice page on this site, follow the advice, and see a doctor about your pains.

  12. I am a 42 years old Caucasian male and recently I developed a fluid retention problem. I never had any health issues before, all vitals including blood pressure have always been normal. Except about 6-7 years ago my primary care physician told me that I had high triglycerides and during this time I started gaining weight, maybe 35-40 lbs overall to weigh 223 lbs now. My height is 5 feet 9 inches, Sports has been a part of my life since middle school and I work out at a gym at least 3-4 times a week. Now, at my last annual checkup the doctor discovered a non-alcoholic fat infiltration in my liver and told me that there was no known cure for this disease and told me to lose weight. Now I wonder if my fluid retention problem related to my liver condition or is it in general weight gain problem. Could you please enlighten me?

    • Linda Lazarides says:

      Steve if your water retention is related to your liver condition then really you need to address the causes of the liver condition. I haven’t had the chance to put you through my own diagnostic program which might help to identify any nutritional reasons why your health problems have developed, but my Waterfall Diet book allows you to do this yourself and would be much cheaper than a consultation with me.

  13. joe brown says:

    within a 6 week period i gained 40 lbs. my legs, gut, feet & private parts are swollen, painful messes. I have a dry cough, exhausted all the time & have been tested & hospitalized..I was dehydrated, kidneys were shutting down. I played golf 3 times a week and worked out with a trainer 3 times a week. now too week to walk without a walker.

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