Sex and dialysis can go together
Dialysis can present its own challenges when it comes to sex and intimacy. However, understanding common concerns or questions can help you feel more relaxed about being intimate.
Intimacy and vascular access
Talk with your doctor or nurse if you have any worries that having sex will hurt your fistula, graft or catheter. Ask how you can protect your access during sex. Basically, you need to avoid putting direct pressure on a fistula or graft. And you need to avoid pulling or tugging on a catheter.
Intimacy and peritoneal dialysis (PD)
It may take time getting used to having fluid in your belly. If it bothers you, ask your PD nurse if you can have sex between a drain and a fill, with or without a cycler. You can have sex while on a cycler—just be sure to place the line in such a way that it doesn’t get crimped.
Lack of desire
There can be many reasons you don’t feel like having sex. This can be caused by something physical like anemia, medications or other conditions like diabetes or fatigue. It can also be psychological. It’s good to be checked by your doctor—to figure out the underlying cause—even if you’re content with not having sex.
If you want to have more sex—or better sex—than what you’re having, talk to your doctor, nurse or social worker about that, too. These specialists can advise you on both medical and psychological issues that could be getting in the way. Know that erectile dysfunction (ED) is very common in men on dialysis—as is sexual dysfunction (difficulty with arousal or orgasm) for women undergoing treatment. Remember, your healthcare team members are used to counseling those on dialysis about sex and intimacy, so don’t be embarrassed to speak up.