|Linda wih Yasuyo Tsunamine, MSW|
So, how does renal failure impact sexual function - and what can be done to help our clients?
- The two most common causes of renal failure are diabetes and high blood pressure - both of which can impact sexual function.
- Medications commonly used (e.g., beta blockers for hypertension, SSRIs for depression) may adversely impact sexual function.
- One study indicated that 85% of hemodialysis patients have some degree of erectile dysfunction!
- Kidney failure doesn't affect men only; information on sexual response in women is more difficult to find.
- A variety of medications may be useful in sexual dysfunction (always check with kidney center pharmacy or nephrologist).
- Intimacy, of course, doesn't have to be sexual.
- Don't forget the importance of "dates," and making time for a relationship in an already busy schedule.
- Social workers and other health care providers are encouraged to consult with sex therapists, or contact the helpful staff of Babeland in Seattle for detailed (sometimes X-rated) suggestions (www.Babeland.com). They can answer specifc questions - or suggest a product that may help your client immensely!
|Happy Bunnies from Babeland|
- "The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability: For All of Us Who Live with Disabilities, Chronic Pain, and Illness" by Miriam Kaufman, MD, Cory Silverberg, and Fran Odette
- "Help! I Need Dialysis" by Dori Schatell and John Agar, MD.
We also discussed how to talk to a patient about sex, and the importance of breaking through our own discomfort, should any exist.
- Starting a discussion with euphemisms may help, e.g., "How have you find ways to enjoy yourselves as a couple?" or "How has dialysis impacted your relationship?" (That way, your patient isn't cornered into talking about sex if that's not where they want to go!)
- Normalizing the experience helps, e.g., "Many people find that kidney trouble decreases their sexual appetite."
- Recognizing any discomfort you have is okay, e.g., "This is a little awkward for me, but I wanted to ask you some more personal questions. Is that okay with you?"
Linda Gromko, MD
Future Blogs: Linda's trip to Japan!