Are sleep apnea and sex related?
Untreated, sleep apnea is an extremely dangerous condition. Being unable to breathe correctly while you sleep increases your risks of heart failure, stroke, and other long-term conditions.
Sleep apnea also harms your quality of sleep, leading to the many physical and mental side effects of sleep deprivation. Now, scientists are even beginning to look at issues like “sleep apnea libido”, or the impact sleep apnea might have on your sex drive.
Today, we’re going to be looking at sleep apnea and sex, to explore how things like lack of sleep, trouble breathing, and even the use of a CPAP machine, impacts sex life.
Let’s get down to business.
Sleep apnea and sex drive: Understanding sleep apnea libido
There are various ways sleep apnea affects your sex life.
CPAP sex studies demonstrate when people improve their breathing, their health improves in numerous ways – including an increase in sex drive.
So, why are sleep apnea and sex connected?
To start, your body won’t operate as usual when it’s not getting the right amount of restorative rest. We struggle to enjoy a natural sex drive, when we’re exhausted.
Many of the symptoms of untreated sleep apnea will undermine your standard libido function too. Fatigue, depression, irritability, and stress are common factors in both sleep apnea and sex drive reduction.
A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found women with sleep apnea had significantly higher rates of sexual issues.
The primary issue impacting sex drive is sleep apnea damaging sleep quality, with periods of waking and panic. Poor sleep automatically interrupts the natural hormone production cycle and reduces the testosterone levels.
Testosterone and sleep apnea: does sleep apnea lower testosterone?
Sleep apnea significantly impacts women in the bedroom, causing higher levels of “sexual distress”, and reduced feelings of sexual attraction.
Women suffering from sleep apnea are more likely to struggle with sexual desire, lubrication, and may even be unable to achieve orgasm.
So, what about men? Can sleep apnea cause low testoterone?
One study from 2009 found around 70% of men dealing with untreated sleep apnea suffered with erectile dysfunction too. Another, more recent study in 2018 discovered men with sleep apnea had 23% greater odds of reporting low libido.
As mentioned above, sleep apnea has a negative impact on the development of testosterone in the human body – a crucial hormone in sex drive. One study from the University of Chicago found that one week of sleep deprivation leads to around a 15% drop in testosterone.
Scientists largely believe the connection between sleep apnea and testosterone may be the major cause behind sleep apnea libido problems. Sleep deprivation does cause our natural levels of testosterone to dip, and it also restricts oxygen levels (important for a healthy erection).
Fortunately, CPAP could be the answer.
Sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction: Sleep apnea impotence
Patients with sleep apnea can overcome erectile dysfunction(ED) by accessing the right treatment.
CPAP therapy is widely regarded the most effective treatment option for patients with sleep apnea. According to one study led by researchers from the Walter Reed Military Center, CPAP can make a difference to erectile dysfunction and sexual performance.
In the study, over a period of 30 days, 90 days, and 6 months with CPAP therapy, the researchers evaluated the sexual performance of the patients. By the end of the study, more than 50% of patients with ED issues reported improvements.
Another reason sleep apnea might lead to problems with erectile dysfunction, is poor sleep quality can have an impact on the overall cardiovascular health.
People who suffer from erectile dysfunction often have a higher risk of suffering from heart conditions too, because the entire body fails to perform at its best, when sleep deprived.
In short, the poor performance of the blood vessels causing ED, mirror the performance of the blood vessels in the heart.
A study from 2018 found CPAP therapy for patients with sleep apnea led to a 28% reduction in the risk of developing coronary artery disease.
The reason for this improvement is CPAP machines increase the air pressure to the throat and prevent obstruction. By preventing the airway collapsing, the CPAP machine prompts the body to reduce the production of norepinephrine, which is the neurotransmitter that keeps us awake.
By reducing the production of substances keeping us awake, the CPAP machine can also significantly reduce your blood pressure, making it easier to pump oxygenated blood around the body.
When the body has access to plenty of oxygenated blood, it’s much easier to maintain firm erections.
Does CPAP help erectile dysfunction and female libido?
Erectile function isn’t the only thing CPAP can benefit when it comes to treating problems with sexual function.
CPAP treatment is regularly advised to people with sleep issues caused by obstructive airways, because they significantly improve quality of life. CPAP treatments allow people to breathe easily during the night, and benefit from improved sexual behavior.
The impact of CPAP on sexual functioning isn’t just evident in men. For women worrying about sleep apnea and sex, a CPAP treatment can also be greatly beneficial.
One study found when participants followed a CPAP treatment plan on a nightly basis, they saw significant improvements in their sex lives and libido.
After 12 months in the study, the participants reported an average of 1-2 points of improvement in things like sexual desire, libido, and sexual performance.
Since sleep apnea causes us to stop breathing and therefore struggle from damaged sleep, many people suffer emotional and physical repercussions without the correct treatment.
While men can see a more evident improvement from CPAP in the form of reduced erectile dysfunction quite quickly, women benefit from the correct treatment too.
Sleep apnea and sex: common connections
Another component of any sex life is the relationship between two people. Partners of people with untreated sleep apnea are more likely to experience sleep disruptions too.
This can lead to higher risk of strained relationships. Your sleep apnea could even affect the sex drive of your partner, creating an ever-increasing cycle of sexual issues.
Speaking of “not being in the mood”, one study found poor sleep makes us more selfish, and could contribute to the breakdown of relationships and marriages.
Sleep apnea can cause depressive symptoms, fatigue, and other conditions which affect your social and sexual activities. If you’re constantly feeling exhausted, it’s difficult to show you’re attracted to your partner or enjoy sexual activity.
Getting help in the form of CPAP treatment doesn’t just benefit the person suffering from sleep apnea in the first place. Sleep apnea treatment can have a positive impact on the emotions and feelings of romantic partners too.
These individuals are less likely to be kept awake during the night by snoring, and they’re also less likely to suffer from things like depression and anxiety.
One study looked at how CPAP therapy had an impact on the female partners of people with sleep apnea and found female partners scored higher on ratings of sexual function after the therapy began.
Improving sleep apnea and sex
Getting the right treatment for sleep apnea is crucial. If you haven’t gone to a doctor to discuss your worries about sleep apnea and sex drive before, then now could be the time to start.
In general, you should always approach a doctor about sleep apnea issues, or symptoms of sleep apnea, such as being exhausted all the time, or suffering from disrupted sleep.
With the right treatment strategy, a doctor can help you to overcome many of the major side effects caused by sleep apnea.
For instance, CPAP treatment won’t just improve your sexual functioning and drive, it can also reduce your risk of long-term health conditions and provide a better quality of life overall. People who get the right sleep apnea treatment, also get the correct amount of sleep each night.
Even if testosterone production and circulation weren’t a side-effect of sleep apnea, the sleep deprivation people suffer from when struggling with sleep apnea, would be enough to have a significant impact on your hormone production, emotional health, and ability to connect with others.
The path to a better life starts with the right treatment.
Siestio. Sleep Matters.
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