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Kidney Diseases, Sexuality and Pregnancy

Individuals with chronic kidney diseases are often concerned with sexuality and having a child. It is not uncommon for a woman with CKD to wonder if she can get pregnant or for a man undergoing dialysis if he can become a father despite his treatment. Additionally, there are birth control questions that need to be discussed, among others.

Let us start with the query if a woman on dialysis can have a child. It is rare for a woman on dialysis to get pregnant. If indeed she gets pregnant she usually has a miscarriage. Most women dialysis patients do not have regular menstrual cycles. However, using erythropoietin (EPO) leads to improvement in some women’s overall health which also increases the chance of pregnancy. A baby is usually conceived after treatments are increased, changes are made in the diet and medications and more frequent visits to the doctor.

A woman’s body changes during pregnancy and adds stress to it. This is true even for healthy women who risk their lives because of pregnancy. A baby’s life is always at risk too at any stage in the pregnancy. However, there is greater risk for women dialysis patients and the unborn child.

Women, especially those who are married, may feel incomplete or sexually incapable, if they are unable to conceive a child. It may even give them a feeling of loss, especially since society expects married couples to have children. In order to cope, women who feel incomplete or depressed should openly communicate her feelings and needs with her partner and / or health care professionals. Perhaps she can also consider other options such as becoming a foster parent.

But it is not only women who get anxious about this issue. Men on dialysis also have the same concern. Can he father a child? The answer is yes, it is possible for a man on dialysis to become a father. Even those who received kidney transplants can become fathers. However, couples who have tried in the last year to conceive a child without success should consult their family doctors. The man may need to have a routine fertility check up.

If a man who has undergone a kidney transplant father a child, then can a woman who underwent the same procedure become pregnant? Fortunately, the answer is a big YES. A woman who went through a kidney transplant has a more regular menstrual cycle and is generally in better health. This makes it easier for her to conceive a baby. However, patients should take note that pregnancy is not recommended until a year after the kidney transplant.

Another concern for women with CKD is birth control. Recommended birth control methods are diaphragm, sponge and condom, especially if they are used with spermicidal creams, foams or jellies. Dialysis patients are recommended to use birth control. The doctor can recommend which birth control type to use to guard against pregnancy. Those with high blood pressure are recommended not to use the pill since it can increase blood pressure. Meanwhile transplant patients are not recommended to use Intrauterine Devices (IUD) since they are more likely to get an infection from IUD use. Anti-rejection drugs taken during dialysis lower the body’s ability to fight infection.

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