Icon - Sexuality, fertility & kidney disease

Sexuality, fertility & kidney disease

Dealing with the health problems caused by chronic kidney disease can be difficult. It’s easy to get caught up in the medical aspects and forget the impact it also has on your personal life and relationships.

What is sexuality?

Sexuality is more than just sex. It’s an important part of who you are, how you see yourself (your self-image), how you express yourself, your sense of self-worth and your sexual feelings for others.

Having chronic kidney disease can have an impact on your self-image and your sexuality. It may be hard to maintain a positive self-image, as chronic kidney disease can make you feel like your body has let you down.

You may find it helpful to focus on what your body can do, rather than focusing on the things you don’t like.

Physical changes and sexuality

Chronic kidney disease may result in changes to how you feel about your body and your sexuality. Some of the changes may include:

  • weight changes
  • itchy skin
  • body odour
  • anaemia (which can affect your ability to maintain an erection or achieve orgasm
  • reduced sexual desire (due to changing hormone levels).

Talk to your doctor about these changes, as treatment may be available:

Sexual development of young people

The effect of chronic kidney disease on a child’s sexual development depends on the age the disease develops. Children with chronic kidney disease may have slowed growth. Teenagers with chronic kidney disease may find that their sexual development slows down or even stops.

It is important for children and young adults to have someone to talk to about the physical, emotional and sexual changes they are experiencing.

Kidney disease and fertility

Fertility can be affected by chronic kidney disease, particularly in the later stages of the disease. Women on dialysis may experience irregular periods or no periods at all.

Most people with chronic kidney disease find that their fertility improves following a kidney transplant. It is usually suggested that women wait at least 12 months after their transplant before trying to conceive.

Women who conceive a child while on dialysis or following a transplant are at increased risk of premature delivery and having babies with small birth weight. It is important that you and your partner discuss family planning with your doctor.  

You may like to read our fact sheet: Sexuality and kidney disease

More fact sheets and other helpful information can be found here: Resource Library

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