Sex for Women Isn't so hot on Dialysis

Hemodialysis for kidney disease does not mix well with a satisfying sex life for women

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

(RxWiki News) While dialysis has already been linked to sexual dysfunction in men, researchers didn't know much about the sex lives of women on dialysis - until now.

A recent study reveals that a large majority of women receiving hemodialysis treatment for kidney disease experience some form of sexual dysfunction or sexual dissatisfaction.

"Seek your doctor's help if you're experiencing sexual problems."

Led by Giovanni Strippoli, MD, of the Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Epidemiology at Consorzio Mario Negri Sud in Italy, researchers investigated how women's sex lives are affected if they are undergoing hemodialysis for advanced kidney disease.

They recruited 1,472 women with end stage renal disease, a condition in which a person's kidneys stop working properly and require either a transplant or treatment with dialysis.

Kidney failure from renal disease is permanent and most commonly occurs because of diabetes or high blood pressure.

The women, recruited from multiple countries in Europe and South America, were all receiving hemodialysis treatment for their condition.

They were asked to answer questions based on a standard assessment of female sexual dysfunction that considers six areas: desire, arousal, (self) lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction and pain.

A little less than half of them, 659 women, completed the questionnaire. Of these women, 55 percent lived with a partner and 35 percent reported being sexually active.

A total of 84 percent of the women overall reported and 55 percent of the women who were sexually active reported some form of sexual dysfunction.

Women living with partners were less likely to report sexual dysfunction than those without regular partners: 78 percent of women with partners were having sexual problems compared to 92 percent of women without partners.

The researchers also gathered information on each woman's age, symptoms of depression, education level, diabetes status, menopause status and use of diuretic therapy. Diuretic therapy, or "water pills," help a person's body get rid of excess water and salt.

The women more likely to have signs of sexual dysfunction were older and less educated women. Also, women with depression or diabetes and women past menopause were at a higher risk for sexual dysfunction.

This data corresponds to the data from other studies showing that men on hemodialysis commonly have sexual dysfunction issues, such as erectile dysfunction, as well.

Other negative symptoms reported by dialysis patients from previous research include pain, depression, difficulty sleeping well and fatigue.

"The highly frequent condition of female sexual dysfunction in women on dialysis deserves attention and further study since specific interventions are not yet available to address it," Dr. Strippoli said.

"Clinicians should not overlook the importance of problems such sexual dysfunction in people who receive hemodialysis for renal replacement therapy," he added.

The study appeared online April 5 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology. The research was funded by a grant from Amgen Inc., and one of the study authors received fellowship funding from Amgen.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 12, 2012
Last Updated:
April 12, 2012