Kidney conditions often affect many other systems in the body, such as blood flow, hormones, and nerves. This can result in a variety of common symptoms, including erectile dysfunction.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) happens when the kidneys don’t work properly for a long period. It can have a range of health effects, some of which can contribute to erectile dysfunction (ED).

Read on to learn more about how kidney disease can contribute to ED, which symptoms to watch out for, and when to get medical help for your symptoms.

Kidney disease doesn’t directly cause ED, but some of its effects may indirectly contribute to ED or increase your risk of developing it.

Shared risk factors, including atherosclerosis

CKD and ED share many of the same risk factors that can lead to impaired blood flow in tissues throughout the body, including the penis. These risk factors can include:

Atherosclerosis is a chronic blood vessel disease where cholesterol deposits build up in arteries throughout the body. It can cause the following complications:

The progression of CKD is associated with the progression of atherosclerosis.

Hormones

Low testosterone is one of the main hormonal issues that develops in people with CKD.

When you’re sexually aroused, neurological signals travel from the brain to the nerves in the penis to stimulate the release of a molecule called nitric oxide by the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels. Nitric oxide release leads to the relaxation of blood vessels in the penis and the increased blood flow required for an erection.

The signaling pathway for the release of nitric oxide is dependent on testosterone.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a major risk factor for both CKD and ED. Diabetes that is not managed can lead to chronically elevated blood sugar levels. High blood sugar can damage many tissues in the body, including nerves. Damage to nerve cells in the penis can impair your ability to get an erection.

Learn more about the link between diabetes and ED.

Fatigue

Fatigue commonly happens as a result of kidney damage as toxins and unfiltered waste products build up in the bloodstream, especially in end-stage kidney disease.

Fatigue is also one of the most common causes of ED. Feeling exhausted can reduce arousal and make it harder to get and keep an erection.

Psychological issues

Having kidney disease can make you feel stressed, depressed, or anxious. These states can make you feel less happy and interested in what you used to enjoy. This may make it more difficult to get or keep an erection.

In addition, having difficulty getting or maintaining an erection may also make you feel stressed or anxious, which can worse ED symptoms.

ED is characterized by the inability to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse.

Symptoms of CKD can include:

Treating the cause of ED is the best way to resolve symptoms. This can mean treating kidney disease or taking a PDE5 inhibitor like Viagra to help you get an erection.

Common treatments for kidney disease include:

Can you take kidney disease and ED medications at the same time?

You can usually take medications for kidney disease at the same time as ED medications.

Ask a doctor before taking PDE5 inhibitors at the same time as nitrates for heart conditions. Taking them together can cause dangerously low blood pressure (hypotension).

Get medical help if you have any of the following symptoms of kidney failure:

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about kidney issues and ED.

Can you take Viagra if you have kidney disease?

You can usually take Viagra if you have kidney disease. But you may not be able to take it if you have severe kidney disease that limits your kidney function.

Does kidney disease affect sperm?

Severe kidney disease can affect the process your body uses to produce sperm, which can lower your sperm count or damage sperm.

Research from 2017 suggests that a kidney transplant may help improve sperm health when you have C.

Does kidney disease affect testosterone?

Having kidney disease can lower your testosterone. Low testosterone has been linked to ED.

What are the main causes of ED?

Some of the most common causes of ED include:

People with CKD can experience ED. Both conditions share many common risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and increased age. Fatigue and hormonal imbalances caused by CKD may also contribute to the development of ED.

It’s important to speak with a doctor if you’re concerned about your kidney health and its effect on your sex life.