Men and Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) affects an estimated 30 million Americans. This is 1 out of every 7 adults.

Are you at risk for chronic kidney disease? 

Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems increase your risk for chronic kidney disease. Ask your doctor if you need to be tested. Most men will not have symptoms in the early stages of kidney disease. The only way to know if you have kidney disease is to get a blood and urine test. As kidney disease gets worse you may have some noticeable problems. Let your doctor or healthcare provider know if you have any of these problems.

Symptoms of worsening kidney function include:

  • Poor appetite
  • Low energy
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dry and itchy skin
  • Swollen feet or ankles
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Not thinking clearly

What steps can you take to keep your kidneys healthy? 

Keep your kidneys strong by leading a healthy life. This means eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight. A healthy life also includes managing your stress, not smoking (or quitting if you do smoke), limiting your alcohol, and getting plenty of sleep.

What role does nutrition play in kidney disease management? 

For men with kidney disease, it is important to work with your doctor and/or a dietitian to create a healthy eating plan. For example, too much sodium (salt) in your diet can cause fluid to build up in your body and/or increase blood pressure, which strains your heart. Everyone is different and so is your dietary plan. Ask your doctor if vitamins or supplements are safe for your kidneys before you start taking them. Remember: If you have questions, ask your doctor if a dietitian consult is right for you.

Will my sexuality be affected by chronic kidney disease? 

Many things can affect your sexuality if you have kidney disease or kidney failure. However, you can still have a healthy marriage or meaningful relationship. Some men with kidney disease may find it more difficult to have or keep an erection. This can be a result of medication side effects, a buildup of toxic wastes in the blood, or other things unrelated to kidney health. Many of these problems can be treated. Do not be afraid to ask questions or get help from your healthcare provider. 1

Are you wanting to start a family? If so, you should discuss it beforehand with your healthcare provider. Your doctor knows your medical history and can assist you in making a decision that is based on your own personal health. Most men with kidney disease, on dialysis, or with a kidney transplant can successfully father children.

What about testosterone levels and chronic kidney disease? 

Research shows that low testosterone levels have been linked with an increased risk of death in men who have stages 3 and 4 chronic kidney disease. If you’re male and living with kidney disease or you don’t know your level of kidney function, this is one more reason to get your kidneys and testosterone levels tested. Men with a high body mass index (BMI) and diabetes were more likely to have low testosterone levels.

What about kidney stones and chronic kidney disease? 

Anyone can get a kidney stone, but men are more likely to get kidney stones than women. In men, the first episode is most likely to occur after age 30, but it can occur earlier.

How can you take control of your health with kidney disease? 

Be an active member of your own healthcare team. Work with your healthcare provider so they know your concerns, ask questions and participate in all decisions. Keep records about your medical history, and current medications. Learn about your condition and let your doctor know if you have questions.


1 National Kidney Foundation, Are there Kidney Health Concerns Specific to Men; and-kidney-health.