Relationships can be complicated even for two healthy people! If one person has a chronic medical problem, such as kidney disease, it may affect your closeness in several ways. It’s good to know what these are and also that you can (and should!) discuss any concerns or problems you have with your doctor. Don’t be shy. Your sexuality is an important part of your health and well-being.

Here are some things you may appreciate knowing about how chronic kidney disease can affect your sexuality:

  • Your sexual relationship may be different than it used to be. People with CKD sometimes find they lack energy, feel nervous, or have anxiety about how their body will work. Some people find that the medicines they take affect their sexual response. If you notice these problems, discuss them with your doctor or a counselor.

  • Sex is safe and healthy. If you have had surgery (such as a kidney transplant), it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions about all activities, including sex. Once you have healed, if you want and feel able to have sex, go ahead!

  • If your body doesn’t cooperate, the problem may be physical or emotional. There are many ways that couples can stay close, including hugging, kissing and touching. If you feel frustrated and want to learn why intercourse is difficult, discuss this with your doctor. He or she can help figure out whether the problem is physical or emotional and will have suggestions on how to solve the problem.

  • If you want to have children, talk to your doctor. Though chronic kidney disease does not usually affect a man’s fertility, it may cause problems that make it difficult or unsafe for a woman to get pregnant. If your plans include a family, discuss your goals with your doctor. He or she can help identify your options and find a solution that’s right for you.