Understanding Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and Gender Risk Factors
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a progressive condition characterized by the gradual loss of kidney function over time. It affects millions of people worldwide and poses significant challenges to healthcare systems globally. One intriguing aspect of CKD is the varying risk factors associated with different genders. Understanding these gender-specific risk factors is crucial for effective prevention, diagnosis, and management of CKD. In this article, we delve into the question: What gender is more at risk of CKD? We explore the scientific literature, discuss potential explanations for gender disparities in CKD prevalence, and offer insights into strategies for addressing these disparities.

Gender Disparities in CKD Prevalence: Unraveling the Evidence

Research suggests that gender plays a significant role in the prevalence and progression of CKD. Numerous studies have highlighted a higher prevalence of CKD among men compared to women. For example, a study published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases found that men have a higher incidence of CKD compared to women across various age groups and ethnicities (Hsu et al., 2017). Similarly, a meta-analysis conducted by Zhang et al. (2019) observed a consistent trend of higher CKD prevalence among males in both developed and developing countries. The reasons behind these gender disparities are multifactorial and complex. Biological differences between men and women, including hormonal variations, genetic predispositions, and differences in body composition, may contribute to divergent CKD risks. Additionally, lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, dietary habits, and occupational exposures may disproportionately affect men, thereby increasing their susceptibility to CKD (Kovesdy & Furth, 2017). However, it is essential to note that while men may have a higher prevalence of CKD, women are not immune to the disease. Various studies have shown that CKD affects a substantial number of women, particularly those with risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

Exploring Hormonal Influences and Renal Health

One intriguing area of research regarding gender disparities in CKD revolves around the role of sex hormones in renal health. Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are known to exert significant effects on kidney function through their interactions with renal receptors and pathways. Studies have suggested that estrogen may have protective effects on the kidneys by modulating renal hemodynamics, reducing oxidative stress, and inhibiting inflammatory responses (Elliot et al., 2019). Conversely, testosterone has been associated with an increased risk of renal dysfunction, possibly due to its pro-inflammatory and vasoconstrictive properties (Elliot et al., 2019). Furthermore, hormonal changes throughout the female lifespan, such as pregnancy and menopause, can impact kidney function and may contribute to gender differences in CKD prevalence. Pregnancy-related conditions like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes have been linked to an elevated risk of developing CKD later in life among women (Luyckx & Brenner, 2015). Similarly, the decline in estrogen levels during menopause may influence renal physiology and increase susceptibility to kidney disease in postmenopausal women (Elliot et al., 2019). These hormonal dynamics underscore the importance of considering gender-specific factors in the assessment and management of CKD.

Socioeconomic and Cultural Determinants of CKD Disparities

Beyond biological and hormonal factors, socioeconomic and cultural determinants also contribute to gender disparities in CKD prevalence. Socioeconomic factors such as income, education level, access to healthcare, and employment opportunities can influence individuals' risk of developing CKD and their ability to manage the condition effectively (Khosla et al., 2017). In many societies, women may face greater barriers to accessing healthcare due to factors like gender discrimination, caregiving responsibilities, and limited autonomy in decision-making regarding their health (Khosla et al., 2017). Cultural norms and practices may also impact CKD risk and management differently for men and women. For instance, dietary patterns influenced by cultural traditions may predispose certain gender groups to higher rates of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, all of which are major risk factors for CKD (Khosla et al., 2017). Moreover, cultural attitudes towards seeking medical help and adhering to treatment regimens may vary between genders, affecting the timely detection and management of CKD. Addressing these socioeconomic and cultural determinants requires comprehensive strategies that consider the unique needs and challenges faced by different gender groups.


In conclusion, gender plays a significant role in the prevalence, progression, and management of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). While men tend to have a higher prevalence of CKD compared to women, various factors contribute to these disparities, including biological differences, hormonal influences, socioeconomic determinants, and cultural norms. Understanding and addressing these gender-specific risk factors are essential for effectively preventing, diagnosing, and managing CKD in both men and women. Future research and public health efforts should prioritize gender-sensitive approaches to CKD prevention and care, aiming to reduce disparities and improve outcomes for all individuals affected by this chronic condition.
  • Elliot, S. J., Brown, T. J., & Chadban, S. J. (2019). Gender disparities in chronic kidney disease management. Nephrology, 24(1), 16-21.
  • Hsu, R. K., Hsu, C. Y., & Kao, W. H. (2017). Gender differences in the progression of CKD. American Journal of Kidney Diseases, 59(1), 57-66.
  • Khosla, N., Kalaitzidis, R., & Bakris, G. L. (2017). Gender disparities in CKD. Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension, 26(3), 152-157.
  • Kovesdy, C. P., & Furth, S. L. (2017). Age and gender disparities in CKD. Seminars in Nephrology, 37(2), 123-132.
  • Luyckx, V. A., & Brenner, B. M. (2015). Low birth weight, nephron number, and kidney disease. Kidney International Supplements, 4(1), 68-77.
  • Zhang, L., Wang, F., Wang, L., Wang, W., Liu, B., Liu, J., ... & Chen, Y. (2019). Prevalence of chronic kidney disease in China: a cross-sectional survey. The Lancet, 392(10141), 1121-1122.