Sexuality & Intimacy
Dialysis treatment can affect how you feel about being sexually intimate with your partner. Changes in how your body looks and with how you physically feel as a result of dialysis can make you lose interest in sex. It’s important to remember that relationships are more than just sex, and intimacy can take on many forms. Holding hands, taking quiet walks, remembering and sharing special moments can help both you and your partner to focus on what is really important in your relationship.
Talk with your partner about how dialysis makes you feel about your body and how you think it affects him or her. Don’t assume that if your partner doesn’t approach you, it’s because he or she no longer finds you attractive. They may not know if your doctor has told you that having sex is okay. They may be afraid of hurting you or damaging the catheter if you have one. Talking things through can help you and your partner to discover new ways to be intimate with each other.
Men with kidney failure may have problems with a lowered desire for sex or with erectile dysfunction. This may be somewhat less likely with nocturnal hemodialysis than with conventional hemodialysis because you get about twice as much treatment. Kidney failure can lead to reduced levels of testosterone. This can be measured with a blood test, and treated with injections or a skin patch.
Fertility can be reduced in men and women who have kidney failure. If you want to have children, talk with your doctor before you attempt pregnancy. Men and women with kidney failure have been able to have children. However, every person’s situation is different. Even though it can be hard to talk to someone about your sexuality concerns, your doctor and social worker are trained to listen and provide advice and referrals to other professionals that can help.