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Body image  can be a                                    WHAT CAN HELP?
        major issue for many,                                      Discuss the issue of sexual difficulty
        especially younger people                                    The first step is to acknowledge the issue
        on treatment. The PD                                       of sexual difficulty with your partner and
        catheter or the fistula can                                later with your healthcare professional.
        be viewed as unsightly                                     Acknowledging that there is a difficulty is a
        and a ‘turn off’, leaving the                              beginning and can help in allowing patients,
        person wondering if they                                   partners and their healthcare professionals
        are still attractive and                                   discuss possible treatment options.
           Impotence is an issue                                   Challenge your beliefs
        for    many     men     on                                   Open and honest communication is essential
        treatment. This can have a                                to challenge the beliefs that abound when
        dramatic effect on     self-image and self-esteem     changes related to illness occur.
        and impact significantly on their sexual relations.   ● Am I desirable?
           There are many causes of impotence, for            ● Am I still attractive?
        example: anaemia, medication and fatigue. It is       ● What does your distance mean?
        often a subject men have difficulty bringing up,      ● How are all these changes going to affect me,
        usually out of embarrassment but sometimes out           us?
        of denial. Treatment for impotence is available.         Partners may need support to enable them to
        Discussing it with your doctor or health care         understand that the sexual disinterest of their
        professional is helpful.                              partner may have nothing to do with them but is
           Many people on treatment complain of chronic       part of their illness. Failure to do so contributes to
        fatigue which affects their interest in sex and       stress and ultimately may be detrimental to the
        sexual performance.                                   relationship.

        Partners                                              Treatment is available
           Not only do partners have to come to terms with       Sexual difficulties experienced by patients can
        a loved one who is ill they also have to deal with    profoundly affect their sense of wellbeing. Yet
        the sexual difficulties that accompany the illness.   treatment and support is available. Discussion with
        This can be a demanding time for partners. It is not  your healthcare professional can begin a process
        uncommon for partners to feel powerless, wanting      that may help alleviate some of the difficulties you
        so much to support and help but fearful of a          experience.
        negative reaction. Much will depend on the stability
                                                                Sexual difficulties are common among men
        of the relationship and their level of open
                                                                and women diagnosed with, or on treatment
        communication prior to diagnosis as to how the
                                                                for kidney disease. Sexual difficulties may
        issue is dealt with. Many partners interpret their
                                                                remain hidden or acknowledged. When one
        partner’s disinterest in sex as a loss of interest in   partner is diagnosed with a chronic illness, it
        them, ushering in the question about their              is only natural that this can cause stress in the
        desirability and attractiveness.                        relationship.
                                                                  Raising the issue, communicating both
        Patients                                                within the relationship and with appropriate
           Many patients feel that they are no longer           healthcare professionals allows for treatment
        attractive or desirable. These feelings are genuine     options to be considered. Failure to
        and must not be overlooked or dismissed. Yet they       acknowledge or express the difficulties may
        are often based on a belief of how one’s  partner       result in arguments and resentments thus
        ‘sees’ them. Whether this belief is valid or not is     adding extra stress, when what is desired is
                                                                support and understanding.
        something that needs to be checked out.

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