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By John Broetje | Blog | Jun 26, 2015
The first thing you think when you see a continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP) is “Oh, that is so sexy,” right? Many people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) groan when their doctor prescribes the CPAP for fear that their sexual attractiveness will drop to non-existent levels. They think that any partner will find the CPAP strapped to their face as appealing as beet-flavored ice cream.
But, it turns out that the Darth Vader-like mask improves the sex life of many with OSA. Numerous studies show that consistent CPAP use boosts libido in both men and women and decreases erectile dysfunction (ED) in men.
A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health reported that many individuals with sleep apnea also suffer from hypogonadism, where the body’s sex glands produce little to no hormones. These sex glands are found in the woman’s ovaries and the man’s testicles. Adding to this drop in sex hormones is the anti-aphrodisiac of snoring that often accompanies sleep apnea, forcing many partners to sleep on the couch most nights.
Sleep apnea affects a whopping 18 million Americans, but that number could easily be much larger since the condition is believed to be widely underdiagnosed. OSA poses a major risk to sexual function because of the continual disruption of sleep and chronic sleep deprivation caused by episodes where the airway is blocked, giving less oxygen to the brain. These episodes repeatedly put the body in panic mode—and when your body is thinking of survival, sex is pushed far down the priority list.
Many people with OSA believe the CPAP will negatively impact their sex life, but ironically, not using the CPAP is what creates sexual impairment and dissatisfaction. Non-compliance with the CPAP not only allows ED and lowered libido to persist, but also can lead to more serious ailments like heart disease, stroke, obesity, and high blood pressure.
From the look of the CPAP, the device may not seem conducive to lovemaking, but many studies have proven its benefit to the sex life of both males and females.
A study performed at the Sleep Disorders Center of the Walter Reed National Military Center found that consistent CPAP therapy may improve both erectile function and desire in men with obstructive sleep apnea. The study observed 92 men newly diagnosed with OSA who had begun CPAP therapy. Of these men, nearly half of them reported having erectile dysfunction.
Lead author Joseph Dombrowsky, MD, was shocked by the number of middle-age men who said they had ED since the condition is more prevalent among the older generation. “We were surprised at how prevalent ED is in a relatively young population of men with sleep apnea. The average age was 45,” he stated. “But we were similarly surprised at how robust a clinically significant response the men had with CPAP therapy.”
Dombrowsky and his colleagues found that, regardless of their level of ED, a majority of the men had improved sex life and decreased ED after the first month of consistently using the CPAP. Based on this finding, Dombrowsky suggested that CPAP therapy may be the best approach for younger men with OSA to combat ED, rather than taking pills like Viagra.
Fewer studies have been done to measure whether CPAP helps women who have OSA with sexual function, but research says that CPAP therapy can help women get the sleep they need and therefore boost libido.
Studies have also claimed that OSA patients who have a supportive partner are more likely to adhere to their CPAP therapy regimen.
The most vital part of CPAP therapy is consistency. Unfortunately, people aren’t going to reap the benefits of increased sexual desire and function associated with CPAP therapy if they only use it once a month or even once a week. The National Institutes of Health study found that one night of sleep with the CPAP doesn’t improve hypogonadism either.
To have a happy sex life, use the CPAP as prescribed by your doctor and remind yourself of all the good it may do to your libido and sexual satisfaction.
This article was originally published by the Sleep Connect on SleepConnect.com, “CPAP Improves Sex Life” by Victoria Candland. This blog was originally published on MattressDepotUSA.com and does not provide medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on mattressdepotusa.com. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.