Kidney disease affects millions of people worldwide. Although it can be treated, it can have serious consequences for both you and your baby when you are pregnant.
If you are considering becoming pregnant or are currently pregnant, it is important to learn more about the risks of kidney disease and whether you are at risk.
What is Chronic Kidney Disease?
Chronic kidney disease occurs when your kidneys are not functioning properly due to kidney damage for three months or more. Your kidneys perform vital tasks to keep your body running smoothly; they remove waste from the body, clean and return blood, maintain water and mineral levels and produce hormones.
There are five stages of the disease with the last stage being the most serious and requiring patients to undergo kidney transplants or kidney dialysis. Kidney dialysis medication can cause serious damage if they're unsafe.
Kidney disease can also refer to a constellation of kidney diseases including glomerular diseases, polycystic kidney disease and nephritis. All of these diseases damage tiny kidney filters called nephrons. Damage can occur suddenly from an injury or infection, but in most cases will accumulate slowly over time.
Causes of Kidney disease
The leading causes of kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. Diabetes and high blood pressure also attack the nephrons in the kidneys. Among other factors, high blood pressure can result from a poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, excessive drinking and smoking.
Kidney damage can also result from persistent use of painkillers and illegal drugs. If you are at risk for kidney disease your doctor may refer you to a kidney disease specialist or nephrologist.
As these health problems may worsen if you are pregnant, it is important to see a nephrologist and an obstetrician for consultation.
Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Disease
Most kidney diseases have similar signs and symptoms that include:
- High blood pressure
- Swelling or numbness of hands and feet
- Blood in urine
- Protein in urine
- Loss of appetite
- Back, side or abdominal pain
- Muscle cramps
- Kidney failure
- Kidney stones
How Kidney Disease Affects Menstruation
Kidney disease causes women's periods to become irregular as it interferes with hormone production. Due to kidney dysfunction, the body retains wastes that inhibit the production of eggs and menstruation.
As a result, getting pregnant may be difficult. Treating your kidney problems first, before you get pregnant, though, will help increase your chances of conception and help ensure a healthier pregnancy.