It is possible to continue being intimate while on dialysis. Talking about any issues you may be experiencing is the first step in maintaining intimacy during treatment.

A couple walking together and holding hands while on an outdoor stroll

With all the new information coming at you, you may be wondering how to maintain certain familiar aspects of your life. For example, you may feel that sex is important for your physical and emotional wellbeing, but that setting up treatments, managing medications and fulfilling work and family duties leaves little room for intimacy, which is normal.

Issues related to self-esteem, body image and sexual desire are common for people on dialysis. Communicating with your partner and your healthcare team is the first step towards dealing with them.

Couple holding hands while sitting down together

Being Intimate on Peritoneal Dialysis (PD)

If you’re on peritoneal dialysis (PD), you may feel uncomfortable having sex with dialysis fluid in your peritoneal cavity. Ask someone in your PD team if you are able to drain out before having sex. It is possible for you to have sex while on a PD cycler, and you and your partner will be able to find the best way to avoid pulling the catheter. Alternatively, ask someone in your PD team if it is possible to come off the cycler to have sex during the night.

Man and woman at a park, taking a break to sit on a bench near a tree with yellow leaves

Discussing Intimacy with Your Partner

Communicating with your partner about how chronic kidney disease (CKD) is affecting your desire for sex and allowing them to share their feelings and needs is important for maintaining closeness. Discussing the physical and emotional difficulties you might be experiencing can create mutual understanding and gives you the opportunity to handle it in a way that feels comfortable for both of you. You may feel uncomfortable having these kinds of conversations, but sexual dysfunction is quite common for those living with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and talking about it can help reduce stress about this aspect of your relationship.

Couple speaking with doctor about concerns with intimacy while a dialysis patient

Lack of Sexual Desire

There are a number of reasons your sexual desire can ebb and flow throughout treatment. It is a good idea to discuss this with your clinician to figure out the underlying cause of your lack of desire. You might experience pain, fatigue or hormone imbalances that reduce your desire for sex. You may also experience concerns about body image or sexual performance, causing you to not want to be physically close to your partner. It’s important to discuss these feelings with your partner. If you do not feel comfortable having intercourse, the two of you might consider alternatives that can help you remain physically close. 

Patient and their spouse walking on the beach outside of dialysis therapy

Are You a Caregiver or Does Someone You Love Need to Go on Dialysis?

Being a caregiver or a loved one to a dialysis patient means that your life will change in one way or another. Knowing what to expect will help prepare you for the journey ahead. Read more about what to expect, how you can support your loved one, and why it is important to care for yourself.

Learn more

Where to go next?

Man and woman enjoying riding their bikes outside

Exercise and Dialysis

Staying physically healthy can help you get the most out of your treatment. Learn about ways you can be active while on dialysis.

Man and his wife waiting for a train together at a train station

Travelling on Dialysis

It may be possible for you to travel while you are on dialysis. Learn more about travelling with chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Patient and their spouse preparing a kidney-friendly salad together

Adopting a Kidney-friendly Diet

A kidney-friendly diet can go a long way in helping you feel well throughout your treatment journey. Learn more about your diet and dialysis.