Correcting impotence in the male dialysis patient: experience with testosterone replacement and vacuum tumescence therapy

Am J Kidney Dis. 1998 Feb;31(2):313-9. doi: 10.1053/ajkd.1998.v31.pm9469503.


Sexual dysfunction remains a common and often distressing problem in the male dialysis population. Traditionally its management has consisted of correction of anemia, optimization of dialysis, removal of implicated medication, and finally depot injections of a testosterone ester. At a dedicated renal impotence clinic, we studied the effectiveness of testosterone replacement in men with biochemically proven hypogonadism and then vacuum tumescence therapy in those with continued erectile dysfunction. Depot testosterone was given to 27 patients (aged 52.4+/-2.5 years; duration of dialysis, 2.00+/-0.40 years; and duration of sexual dysfunction, 2.92+/-0.49 years): sexual function was fully restored in only three (11.1%), and two gradually lost the response over 18 months. Nineteen patients (70.3%) had partial responses, varying from an increased sense of well-being alone to restored sexual function apart from an impairment of the duration of penile erection. Five patients (18.5%) had no response, and testosterone was contraindicated in another four. Four of the treated patients (14.8%) reported fluid retention. Vacuum tumescence devices were then offered to 32 patients who remained impotent but declined by six. Twenty-six patients (aged 49.6+/-2.2 years; duration of dialysis, 2.50+/-0.58 years; and duration of sexual dysfunction, 3.26+/-0.56 years) used the devices, with 19 (73.1%) having full correction of their erectile dysfunction; six also continued with depot testosterone to maintain their libido. Penile discomfort was described by five patients (19.2%) whose potency was not restored. A further five predialysis patients have used the devices, and all had correction of their erectile dysfunction. The correction of biochemical hypogonadism in the male dialysis population with testosterone rarely restores sexual function to normal, whereas vacuum tumescence therapy corrects penile erection dysfunction in most patients.

MeSH terms

  • Drug Implants
  • Equipment and Supplies*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / etiology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peritoneal Dialysis / adverse effects*
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects*
  • Testosterone / therapeutic use*


  • Drug Implants
  • Testosterone