Kidney diseases can adversely affect your sex life by decreasing sexual interest and ability. There are a variety of factors that contribute to this including chemical and physical changes and medication which impinge on sexual function.
The body undergoes chemical changes when it is afflicted with a kidney disease which affects hormones, circulation, energy level and nerve function. Meanwhile, physical changes may also make kidney patients feel less sexually attractive. For example, steroids cause water retention resulting to weight gain, acne and hair growth or loss. Surgical scars can also make patients insecure about their bodies. All these contribute to the loss of sexual interest and functioning.
Kidney Transplant and Dialysis Patients
There is also concern that sexual activity may harm the patient by interfering with dialysis access. However, health care professionals contend that as long as no pressure is applied on the access site that will cause damage, sexual activity should not be hampered. Meanwhile, patients who received kidney transplants should wait for the scars to heal before resuming sexual activity. It is best to consult with your doctor when you are uncertain.
In contrast to transplant patients, dialysis patients have more sexual problems because of fatigue and anemia. However, even transplant patients can have concerns because of factors like stress, age, relationship issues and physical conditions. Those on dialysis treatments should maintain their positive attitude on sex to decrease the chances of having severe sexual problems. Interest in sexual activity may return when the patient starts to feel better, physically and emotionally, as a result of the treatment. Sometimes, the interest is no longer there and couples may require the help of a professional sex therapist.
Physical and Psychological Sexual Problems
Health care professionals have these recommendations if the problem is physical in nature. Men who have difficulty maintaining an erection have the option of getting penile implant surgeries that place semi-rigid rods into the penis. Other options are: use of male hormones, use of oral and injectable medications and use of external suction devices. Doctors trained on impotence can provide all the information needed by the patient.
Meanwhile, women kidney patients may suffer from vaginal dryness and pain during sexual activity. Dryness is caused by lower hormone levels. This can be addressed by changing the blood pressure medicine or with extra hormones. Meanwhile, pain associated with intercourse can be addressed with the use of a water-soluble vaginal lubricant. Patients are advised against using petroleum jelly because it may increase the risk of infection. Again, doctors can provide the information on available options.
If the problem is psychological, relaxation and physical exercises will help control anxiety towards sexual function. Kidney failure gives a person a lot of negative emotions like anxiety and depression which cause decreased sexual interest and functioning. These emotions also drain a person’s energy. If relaxation and physical exercises do not help, sex therapy is an option. However, some of the options given for physical sexual problems may also help even if the problem is psychological.
Problems such as low sexual interest, reaching climax too early or too long, painful intercourse, and erection challenges can be addressed by the sex therapist. When sex therapy is sought as a solution, sexual education for the patient or for both partners is the first step. This is followed by communication exercises to help the couple relate better to each other. Stress reduction activities such as relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga may also be recommended. The sex therapist may further introduce ways of improving skills on how to give and receive pleasurable touches. Look for licensed sex therapists with backgrounds in psychiatry, psychology, social work or is a physician.