A lot of older individuals focus on improving their heart and brain health in their senior years. But there are two bean-shaped organs that need just as much attention—your kidneys.
For starters, your kidneys play essential roles in the body. They transport waste away from the body, help regulate hormones, keep electrolytes in balance, and filter out toxins.
When your kidneys are not functioning as they should, it can lead to a myriad of problems—from weight loss to edema.
But can kidney problems cause erectile dysfunction too?
Unfortunately, kidney diseases are also somewhat widespread. According to one study conducted in South Asia, about 15% of adult males suffer from chronic kidney disease.
Furthermore, the risk of chronic kidney disease is high among males with underlying health conditions like hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Consequently, these conditions are also heavily linked with erectile dysfunction.
As a consequence, if you’re suffering from kidney impairment and erectile difficulties, your sex life is bound to suffer too.
This article will go on a deep dive into the problems that kidney diseases can pose on your erectile function, as well as how to treat these sexual conditions.
Symptoms of Kidney Disease
Many individuals suffering from renal dysfunction and advanced kidney failure are unaware that they’re suffering from it early on in their prognosis.
Don’t wait until your sex life is in jeopardy to suspect kidney problems. Some of the more common signs and symptoms associated with kidney disease include:
- Swollen ankles and feet
- Weight loss
- Muscle cramps
- Blood in the pee
- Itchy skin
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of end-stage renal disease, it’s advised to get checked by a healthcare professional. Early-stage kidney disease is often asymptomatic, so make sure you get regular check-ups to prevent it from advancing.
How Does Kidney Disease Cause Erectile Dysfunction
As previously mentioned, the kidneys are responsible for a myriad of bodily functions, from regulating hormones to getting rid of waste and toxins.
When there’s a disruption to your kidney’s functions, it can impact the production of the body’s hormones, affecting your sexual health and organ system at large.
Here are some of the most pressing kidney problems that can cause sexual dysfunction.
1. Nerve Damage
Nerve damage is a common occurrence in someone with kidney damage. If the renal artery (large blood vessels that carry blood to your kidneys) is blocked, it can cause a reduction in blood flow to the kidneys. If too little blood flows in your kidneys, your kidneys will respond by sending a signal to the body to retain sodium and water in the blood.
Retaining these substances can cause a rise in blood pressure in the blood vessels, which subsequently leads to nerve damage if sustained over time. A prolonged period of nerve damage can lead to atherosclerosis—or hardening of the arteries. When this happens, the penis may not be able to receive the same volume of blood that it once did.
2. Hormonal Issues
In addition to nerve damage, kidney diseases can also cause a hormonal imbalance, which can lead to erectile impairment.
This is especially evident in chronic dialysis patients and people with chronic renal failure, as the kidneys are not able to filter out toxins and hormones as efficiently as before.
The kidney is responsible for regulating many hormones, including male sex hormones like testosterone and a specific blood pressure hormone known as renin. The form of kidney regulation differs from hormone to hormone; some get elevated, whereas others get removed from the body.
The best way to manage testosterone deficiency is to get regular check-ups done. If you’re suffering from male sex hormone problems caused by kidney disease, your doctor may prescribe hormone replacement therapy.
If your risk factors are severe, having a kidney transplantation may be the advised course of action.
3. Psychological Distress
Kidney disease can also lead to psychological distress. The fear of not being able to perform sexually, coupled with the physical symptoms that come along with kidney diseases, can lead to psychological issues.
Mental distress can take on multiple forms, such as feelings of despair and depression brought about by a dip in one’s quality of life due to kidney disease. According to one recent study, depression also caused 44% of participants to have decreased libido and about 33% of men to develop erectile dysfunction.
If you’re experiencing psychological distress due to your kidney disease, don’t hesitate to talk to a mental health professional or a sex therapist. These medical professionals are equipped to work with you to identify the source of your distress and help you cope with it in a healthy way.
A few medications can also inadvertently cause or worsen erectile dysfunction.
Some medications that can give rise to ED include:
- Histamine antagonists
- Calcium channel blockers
A combination of different medications, like nitrates and PDE5 inhibitors, may also lead to erectile dysfunction. It’s best to speak with a doctor to find the best medications to take to treat kidney conditions while alleviating ED symptoms.
Treating Erectile Dysfunction
While treating kidney disease is a great first step to treating kidney disease-induced erectile dysfunction, other ED treatments exist that are aimed to tackle the problem more directly.
Here are some of the best ways you can treat erectile dysfunction:
- Erectile dysfunction therapy: This can be done through medications, topical gels, creams, and injections.
- Counseling: If you’re suffering from mental health problems on top of your kidney disease, talking with a psychologist can help you address your mental distress.
- RestoreWave therapy: Also known as acoustic wave therapy, this type of therapy uses sound waves to help stimulate blood flow and improve nerve function in the penis.
- Vacuum pumps: Vacuum pumps are a popular erectile dysfunction treatment that helps draw blood into the penis.
Besides the aforementioned treatment plans, lifestyle modifications are also effective. Sleeping regularly, partaking in regular exercise, and eating an aphrodisiac diet can all play a role in improving sexual function.
Get Better Erectile Dysfunction Treatment with Tampa, Florida’s Best Doctors
Kidney disease is a frustrating condition to live with, and it’s only made worse when your sex life also takes a hit.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be a lifelong ordeal. You may contact us at Prestige Men’s Medical Center to get access to treatment plans to help you live the life you deserve.
Get yourself screened by medical experts and improve your sex life today.