Effect of Foot Reflexology on Sexual Function of Patients under Hemodialysis: A Randomized Parallel Controlled Clinical Trial

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2021 Oct 21:2021:8553549. doi: 10.1155/2021/8553549. eCollection 2021.


Introduction: Hemodialysis patients experience sexual dysfunction due to the nature of their disease and its complications. Dialysis patients have reported sexual dysfunction as one of the most important stressors, which leads to many psychological and physiological problems. Sexual function in hemodialysis patients has been improved with pharmaceutical and nonpharmacological therapies. Foot reflexology is a complementary and alternative treatment that can be used in conjunction with contemporary care. By activating the chemical nerve system, reflexology may balance enzymes and regulate endocrine function.

Objectives: To determine the effect of foot reflexology on the sexual function of hemodialysis patients.

Methods: This randomized controlled trial was conducted on 47 patients on chronic hemodialysis referred to Imam Reza Hospital in Sirjan, Iran, who were divided into two groups of reflexology (n = 24; male = 19 and female = 5) and sham (n = 23; male = 18, and female = 5). The intervention group received foot reflexology during dialysis for four weeks, three times a week, 30 minutes each time (15 minutes per foot). The sham group received nonspecific foot massage without applying pressure on standard reflex points with the same condition and duration as the intervention group. The international index of erectile function and female sexual function index was assessed before, immediately, and one month after the intervention.

Results: The results showed that immediately after the intervention, male orgasm function, sexual desire, and intercourse satisfaction in the reflexology group was significantly higher than those of the sham group. There was no significant difference between the two groups regarding erectile function and overall satisfaction. Furthermore, there was no significant difference between the two groups in terms of different aspects of female sexual function.

Conclusions: Foot reflexology, as an effective intervention treatment, can reduce some aspects of sexual dysfunction of male patients under hemodialysis.