Sleep apnea can affect more areas of one’s life than sleep, such as work, temperament, energy level and overall mood.
Sleep apnea sufferers often wake several times during the night and experience restless periods of sleep due to breathing problems indicative of the condition. Consequently, sleep apnea sufferers become severely sleep deprived, and myriad health problems result.
But in addition to productivity and wakefulness-related issues, sleep apnea sufferers also may experience disruptions to their sex lives and impotence due to the condition. Erectile dysfunction is a commonly co-morbid condition found with sleep apnea, but the good news is that treating the latter can frequently resolve the former, according to the data from a new study.
According to a researcher who spoke to US News and World Report (in a comment we cannot help giggling at), the study was small but “has huge implications.” Dr. Steven Park is an ear, nose and throat physician and sleep medicine specialist who was not involved with the research, but who treats male patients suffering from both sleep apnea and impotence.
Park says that he has personally observed the study’s findings among patients he treats for sleep apnea, and explains:
“In my practice, one of the most common comments is that they’re having erections again upon wakening in the morning… Bed partners report improved relations.”
Of sleep apnea’s effect on sexual performance, Park describes how the two processes affect one another:
“Having multiple breathing pauses at night causes a massive stress response, increasing your fight-or-flight response, and reproductive function is your last priority when you’re being chased by a tiger or in even fighting off an attack… Also, arousal and erection are activated by the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls digestion and reproduction, so too much stress will lessen these functions.”
In the study, 17 out of 42 men using a CPAP machine for sleep apnea found that erectile dysfunction resolved within six months.