Pregnancy and Dialysis

Pregnancy and dialysis do not go together very well at all. There is no point in pretending otherwise.

The general advice is that getting pregnant should be avoid, and due to age and other factors, less than 1% of women on dialysis become pregnant. Most female dialysis patients do not have regular periods. The use of erythropoietin (EPO) has improved some women's overall health, which can result in a greater chance of pregnancy. Pregnancy by itself puts a strain on the body, and having kidney failure certainly puts quite a strain on the body, so the combination is risky to say the least. Pregancy with kidney failure is uncommon, most women following the advice of their doctor and avoiding it, but some women do get pregnant, so what is the outcome?

It seems to be a matter of timing. If a women gets pregnant then, due to kidney failure, needs to start dialysis at some time during her pregnancy, the survive rate to full term is about 80%. But if the woman is on dialysis alreadt and then gets pregnant, things are sadly a lot worse. Only about 50% of cases produce a live birth. The child is most likely to be born prematurely which can lead to other problems.

Research seems to show that if the patient increases the number of hours of dialysis, there is a better chance of the baby surviving. Also it seems that patients choosing nocternal dialysis do a little bit better as well.

Some of this can be read about in this 2008 article, while this 2014 article on intensifying the dialysis treatment holds hope for those wanting to have a child.

Men have it easier, as they can father a child even if on dialysis or after a transplant.

For women however, a transplant makes life easier, their bodies stabilize a lot more and they can have a child, although it is recommended that waiting a year or so before trying to have a child is a better plan..

This really is a situation where you MUST discuss things with your doctor before considering trying for a child if you are on dialysis. More than one life is at risk, and reading an article on the web is no substitute at all for a proper analysis of your current health and the state of your kidneys. We really urge you to take medical advice about this!