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Sleep Apnea and Erectile Dysfunction

Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type of sleep apnea, is a sleep disorder which should be taken seriously. People who have OSA experience pauses in breathing repeatedly during sleep. What’s more, OSA sufferers often snore and have difficulty getting enough sleep.

However, this sleep disorder can also impact the testosterone and oxygen levels, which can trigger many different issues, such as erectile dysfunction (ED). According to recent research, there is a strong connection between OSA and a high prevalence of ED in men.

Researchers have come to the conclusion that men who have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to develop erectile dysfunction and vice versa. A 2009 Trusted Source Journal of Sexual Medicine Trusted Source study discovered that 69% of the men who participated in the study had both OSA and ED at the same time. Then, another study in 2016 found that 63% of the study participants who have sleep apnea also have erectile dysfunction. On the other hand, only 47% of the participants without obstructive sleep apnea had ED.

There were 120 men in the study who has ED, out of which 55 had sleep apnea symptoms. The results of the study suggested that men who have erectile dysfunction are susceptible to developing or suffering from undiagnosed sleep disorders.

The Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Testosterone

There still hasn’t been determined why there is a connection between OSA and high risk of ED. However, it is known that testosterone levels tend to dip in men who suffer from sleep deprivation due to sleep apnea. What’s more, sleep deprivation might also restrict oxygen. Both testosterone and oxygen are important for healthy erections. It is also believed that people who suffer from sleep apnea tend to experience stress and fatigue, which can only deteriorate sexual issues.

Other research has also discovered a connection between dysfunction with the endocrine system and sleep disorders. Many sleep apnea patients have hormone overactivity, which affects sleep. Until now, there hasn’t been a study which has determined whether OSA impacts testosterone production.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

There are three main types of sleep apnea, including obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea. The three versions tend to have similar symptoms. As a result, getting a proper diagnosis seems to be next to impossible. Nevertheless, some of the most common sleep apnea symptoms might be:

  • loud snoring
  • breathing pauses during your sleep
  • waking up abruptly with shortness of breath
  • waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth
  • headaches in the morning
  • difficulty getting to and staying asleep
  • excessive daytime sleepiness
  • problems concentrating
  • irritability

Treatment Options

The area and the connection between OSA and ED still need further research. Nevertheless, scientists claim that treating sleep apnea will also have a positive impact on ED symptoms. Thus, using continuous positive airway pressure therapy will alleviate erectile dysfunction and improve erections. Using CPAP therapy enhances erections in men with obstructive sleep apnea. This is so because quality sleep raises testosterone and oxygen levels.

A pilot study conducted in 2013 found that men who suffered from sleep apnea and underwent tissue removal surgery (UPPP) experienced a decrease in ED symptoms. Besides CPAP and tissue removal surgery, there are also other OSA treatments, such as:

  • using a device to increase air pressure
  • using as expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP)
  • wearing an oral device to keep the throat open
  • using additional oxygen
  • taking care of underlying medical issues

The clear connection between obstructive sleep apnea and ED is more than evident, but the reason behind this correlation is still a mystery. What’s important to know is that treating OSA can have a very positive impact on ED due to improvements in testosterone and oxygen levels. Thus, if you experience both these conditions, you should talk to your physician about available treatment options.

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