ED Rx Okay While Treating Kidney Failure

End stage renal disease patients can safely take ED medication after kidney transplant or during dialysis

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Men with end-stage renal disease can be successfully treated with dialysis and transplants. But their quality of life may be interrupted by erectile dysfunction (ED). 

End-stage renal disease happens when kidneys lose all or most of their ability to function. Patients must have dialysis or a kidney transplant to stay alive. Patients can have a good quality of life during and after treatment, but ED can have a negative impact. 

ED is treatable. One type of medicine used to treat it is called phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitor. This medication works by increasing blood flow to the penis. 

A recent study found that patients with end-stage renal disease on dialysis or who have received a kidney transplant could safely and successfully take a PDE5 inhibitors for ED.

"Problems with ED? Ask your doctor about medications."

Fedele Lasaponara, MD, of Molinette General and University Hospital, Torino, Italy, and colleagues led the study to determine if patients with end-stage renal disease receiving dialysis or kidney transplants could safely take a PDE5 inhibitor to treat ED. 

Researchers reviewed published studies that included renal (kidney) dialysis and transplant patients who took one of two types of PDE5 inhibitors or a placebo (sugar pill). The two PDE5 inhibitors used for the study were sildenafil (sold as Viagra) and vardenafil (sold as Levitra, Staxyn and ODT). 

ED was measured using the International Index of Erectile Function and the Global Assessment Questionnaire. The questionnaire was used to measure improvements in ED.  

In studies using sildenafil, 75 to 85 percent of patients on dialysis or with a transplant reported that their ED was significantly improved.

A total of six out of the 260 dialysis patients that received sildenafil stopped taking the medication due to unwanted side effects. Out of 400 transplant patients taking sildenafil, three stopped taking it. 

In studies using vardenafil, 82 percent of kidney transplant patients reported a significant improvement in ED. None of the 59 patients in this group stopped taking the medication because of side effects. 

Results suggested that end-stage renal disease patients on dialysis or who had a recent transplant can safely take a PDE5 inhibitor to treat ED.

"As treatments for renal dysfunction become more successful and survival improves, improving the quality of life, including sexual concerns such as ED, becomes a priority," the authors commented in the study. 

There were some limitations in the study. Most of the studies the authors reviewed were short-term trials. Long-term safety needs further research. Also, the reviewed studies did not include information about dosage or timing of the dosage affects. 

All men should consult with a doctor before taking any kind of medication to treat ED, regardless of their current health status.

This study, titled "Phosphodiesterase Type 5 Inhibitor Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction in Patients with End-Stage Renal Disease Receiving Dialysis or After Renal Transplantation," was published January 24 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. It was funded by Pfizer, Inc. Dr. Lasaponara and colleagues disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 31, 2013
Last Updated:
February 2, 2013