02 Jun Kidney Disease in Women -The Numbers Are Increasing
Chronic kidney disease, also known as CKD, has been affecting the population for quite some time. One group that is seeing increasing numbers of CKD are women who are 50 years and over. African American women specifically are also seeing increasing numbers of kidney disease cases. When researching information about kidney disease, treatments, and symptoms, there are almost never any differentiation between men and women. Though it seems to never be mentioned, there are many unique issues that a woman with CKD will experience, that men do not. A few of these issues are problems with menstrual periods, a decrease in sexuality, and pregnancy problems.
Though it may seem that chronic kidney disease has snuck up on you, this is not the case. The fact of the matter is that you have had kidney disease for a period of time now, and may have ignored some of the warning signs. A very common symptom that is overlooked by many women is irregular menstruation. Women may experience irregular periods for a large number of reasons, some being only minor. This is why this symptom is so commonly ignored, because most women just assume that their irregularities are from a benign cause. When a woman has CKD, her periods can become increasingly irregular as her kidney function begins to drop. Her body starts to retain a higher level of waste products, due to the failing kidneys, causing egg production to be affected, which in-turn affects her menstrual cycle.
Changes in sexuality can also be a common kidney disease symptom in women. Like irregular menstrual cycles, changes in sexuality can also be caused by numerous other factors, and so it is often overlooked, though over half of women with CKD have a decrease in sexuality. These changes occur due to both physical and emotional problems associated with kidney disease. As the kidneys normal functions begin decreasing, hormone and blood flow levels are affected. Decreased blood flow to the genital area affects sensitivity, and contributes to the lack of sexual desire. Off balance hormone levels in women with CKD also are a big factor in sexuality changes. Low hormone levels tend to cause vaginal dryness, which can lead to painful intercourse. Women experiencing an abnormal decrease in sexuality should definitely speak to their healthcare professional about being checked for CKD.
Kidney disease in women can also have major affects during pregnancy. Women who have CKD and conceive are at high risks for adverse maternal and fetal outcomes. Pregnancy puts a lot of stress on a woman’s body; even otherwise healthy women have complications. If you have kidney disease, this increased stress puts both you and the fetus at risk. Unstable hormone levels are often the biggest risk, and generally will cause a miscarriage early in the pregnancy.
Kidney disease symptoms in women are very commonly overlooked. Ignoring these symptoms only allows CKD to progress and continue to damage your kidneys. Women experiencing some or all of these symptoms should not rule out the possibility of kidney disease.