Can damaged Kidneys cause Erectile Dysfunction? How do Kidneys support the endocrine system?

03:02 PM Jun 05, 2024 | Team Udayavani |

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a prevalent condition among male chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients. CKD is a progressive condition where kidney function declines over time, leading to various complications. The estimated prevalence of ED is approximately 70% among these individuals. Which when compared to general population is about 30-40%.
The underlying mechanism of the disease process is not attributable to a single factor but is an outcome of multiple underlying processes with hormonal, metabolic, nutritional, and psychological factors playing a role.


•Hormonal abnormalities are commonly observed in CKD patients, including reduced total and free testosterone levels, Testosterone is pivotal for male sexual function, governing libido, erectile function, and sperm production. So with the decline of testosterone libido decline is inevitable leading to the exacerbation of ED. Furthermore, testosterone deficiency leads to damage of penile smooth (small) muscles which are responsible for erection.

Increased serum luteinizing hormone (LH) levels, Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels also impact and deteriorate ED.
Increased prolactin levels are common in CKD patients which translates into low libido and subsequently ED.

•CKD is a risk factor for endothelial (inner lining of blood vessel) dysfunction, this results in decreased production of chemicals (NO) responsible for achieving and maintaining an erection contributing to the occurrence of ED.

•Autonomic neuropathy or nerve damage, can occur in end-stage renal disease, which has also been identified as a cause of ED in CKD patients.


•Metabolic disorders such as hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidaemia, which are common associations in CKD, are significant risk factors for ED.

•In CKD, anaemia and erythropoietin (Hormone responsible for blood production) deficiency can further exacerbate the development of ED, mechanism of which is multifactorial.

•Vitamin D deficiency can have several impacts on chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients. Some of the reported impacts include a correlation between a decline in serum parathyroid hormone (PTH) concentration through treatment with 1,25(OH)2 vitamin D3 and the recovery of erectile function in dialysis patients. Therefore, it is possibly implicated in erectile dysfunction in dialysis patients.

•Many of the drugs used in in treatment of CKD like anti-hypertensive and diuretic medications has the potential of causing ED.

•Depression is common in CKD patients which can be as high as 20-30% and depression has been found independently as a risk factor for ED.

•Zinc deficiency in CKD patients also plays an important role in development of ED. Studies have shown return or improvement of Erection in selected patients after Zinc supplementation.

Treatment approaches for ED in CKD patients often involve the use of phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE5Is) as a first-line therapy. Testosterone replacement therapy may also be beneficial. Renal transplantation has been reported to restore erectile function, especially in younger patients.

The kidneys play a crucial role in supporting the endocrine system through several mechanisms:

1. Regulation of Hormones: The kidneys help regulate the production of hormones such as erythropoietin (EPO), which stimulates red blood cell production, and renin, which plays a role in blood pressure regulation.

2. Metabolism of Vitamin D: The kidneys are involved in the activation of vitamin D, which is important for calcium metabolism and bone health.

3. Blood Pressure Regulation: The renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, which is regulated by the kidneys, plays a key role in blood pressure regulation and fluid balance.

4. Acid-Base Balance: The kidneys help regulate the acid-base balance in the body, which is important for overall hormonal and metabolic function.

Dr Sanman K N, Professor and Head, Department of Urology, KMC Hospital, Mangalore


Udayavani is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest news.