Men's Health

Treating Sleep Apnea May Help Men's Sex Life

Younger men who have sleep apnea often also have erectile dysfunction. But researchers say that treating the sleep disorder has a side benefit: It may boost sexual performance.

Photo of a man sleeping

During a small study at Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., researchers surveyed 92 men with an average age of 46 who started using CPAP machines after being diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure.

After six months, the CPAP device users reported that they had better sexual function and sexual satisfaction. Erectile dysfunction vanished in 41 percent of those who'd had erection issues.

Even men who used CPAP devices but didn't have sexual dysfunction reported a boost in sexual performance, researchers found.

Important finding

Steven Park, M.D., at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, says the study is important. "If you snore or you're tired and you're having intimacy issues, consider getting tested for obstructive sleep apnea."

People with sleep apnea subconsciously awaken many times a night - even dozens of times an hour - because their airways close, disrupting their breathing. Sleep apnea sufferers often snore heavily and are usually tired during the day.

A CPAP machine sends pressurized air into the person's throat to keep the airway open throughout the night.

Welcome benefit

Dr. Park says sleep apnea treatments have changes his patients' lives. "In my practice, one of the most common comments is that they're having erections again upon wakening in the morning," he says.

The National Sleep Foundation estimates that 18 million Americans have obstructive sleep apnea, but that 90 percent may not know it. Treating sleep apnea often improves other risks associated with the sleep disorder, including high blood pressure.

The study was presented at a recent meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

Online Resources

(Our Organization is not responsible for the content of Internet sites.)

American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery - Snoring and Sleep Apnea

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute - What Is Sleep Apnea?

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke - Sleep Apnea Information Page

August 2012

Facts About Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Anyone at any age can have obstructive sleep apnea, but it's most common in middle-aged and older adults, and more common in men than in women.

Some people have no symptoms with obstructive sleep apnea. Others find that they just don't feel rested after a night of sleep and are drowsy during the day.

Snoring is one of the main symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. Snoring may be interrupted with periods of quiet, called an apnea episode. Or after a lapse in breathing, snoring can start up with a loud sound when breathing starts again.

Other symptoms include:

  • Morning headache

  • Frequently falling asleep during the day

  • Easily irritated

  • Depression

  • Difficulty remembering things

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

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