Erectile Dysfunction and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
It’s not just a good night’s sleep that obstructive sleep apnea can disrupt. Insurmountable evidence points to a link between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and erectile dysfunction (ED), meaning this potentially serious sleeping disorder can also get in the way of intimacy and masturbation for the 69% of men who suffer from both conditions.
Getting on top of things early is important, because the prevalence of ED associated with obstructive sleep apnea has been found to increase with age -for every year a person with OSA ages, the likelihood of developing ED increases by 2.444 times.
That’s the bad news.
Want the good news?
Because it’s a causal link, when you remove the cause (in this case, obstructive sleep apnea), you can change the outcome (erectile dysfunction). If you’re unsure whether or not you may have OSA, Australian at home sleeping tests can help diagnose this condition.
This article has been written to help men who have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea better understand and reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction. If you don’t have obstructive sleep apnea but you have trouble getting or maintaining an erection, please keep reading! Men with erectile dysfunction who snore are at risk of having undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea.
The correlation between Erectile Dysfunction and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
When you have obstructive sleep apnea, you don’t just snore. It is a serious sleep disorder where your throat collapses completely or partially while you sleep, causing you to stop breathing. This usually lasts for 10 to 30 seconds until your brain signals it’s time for the throat to go back to work, but sometimes it can last for as long as two minutes at a time. When this is taking place multiple times every hour for as long as you’re asleep, it’s no wonder you wake up tired – your body has been in overdrive all night keeping you alive! You need to get on top of your sleep for erectile dysfunction to stop causing you headaches in the bedroom.
The correlations between obstructive sleep apnea and ED are numerous.
For one, sleep quality and quantity play a vital role in balancing hormones, and studies have found that the complications of obstructive sleep apnea can reduce the hormone testosterone. When erections require testosterone for sexual arousal, low or reduced testosterone can play a role in erectile dysfunction.
It’s also not surprising to see so many men with erectile dysfunction have obstructive sleep apnea, because the penis needs good blood circulation to get and sustain an erection. In those moments where your breathing stops, your blood oxygen levels drop as well. Compromised circulation means the heart struggles to pump blood well to the body’s cells, organs and yep – you guessed it – the penis as well.
The severity of obstructive sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction can often be minimised or prevented with lifestyle changes including exercise, losing weight, avoiding alcohol and quitting smoking.
Cardiovascular health – the key to unlocking erectile dysfunction
You can see now that erectile function needs healthy cardiovascular health, but obstructive sleep apnea affects your cardiovascular health. So what’s a man to do? Well, if you want a healthy sex life, you need a healthy life!
Unfit and overweight men are not only at a greater risk of having low oxygen levels that cause erectile dysfunction, but also in developing Type II Diabetes. The connection between OSA, ED, and Type 2 diabetes is characterised by obesity and poor health. It’s found that OSA alters glucose metabolism and promotes insulin resistance, so to work on diabetes prevention is to work on obstructive sleep apnea prevention.
Adding cardio-based exercise to get the blood flowing is both a great preventative and restorative approach to managing ED. A study published in Sexual Medicine found the optimal time to work out for ED-related endurance is weekly exercise of 160 minutes over 6 months, consisting of four 40-minute sessions per week.
Can CPAP treatment for OSA help improve ED?
When obstructive sleep apnea causes impotence or premature ejactulation, you may want to find immediate solutions to help improve sexual performance. From Googling sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction supplements to considering testosterone therapy, penile injections and penile implants, there are many ways that claim to help you find your erection again. But don’t add ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’ to your list of health conditions! The best way to tackle erectile dysfunction if you have obstructive sleep apnea, is with increasing exercise, reducing alcohol, and getting better quality sleep.
Many men (and their partners) choose to bring a CPAP into the bedroom because of the benefits it brings to their overall health and sleep quality. What they may not expect however, is that their sex lives can also improve! Men’s erectile function, intercourse satisfaction, orgasmic satisfaction, sexual desire and overall satisfaction with sex can all improve when their airways are opened up during sleep. It turns out CPAP treatment isn’t just for sleeping disorders, CPAPs are for erectile dysfunction too.
Try this before popping a pill to improve erectile dysfunction
While there are many treatments available for erectile dysfunction, most men don’t need a doctor or pharmacist to prescribe treatment. When you know the science behind obstructive sleep apnea and how it affects the rest of your body – the penis included – you can start to implement actions and behaviours that aid the body in functioning at its optimal levels.
Now that you’re aware of the causal nature of obstructive sleep apnea on erectile dysfunction, you can set yourself a challenge to minimise or eliminate your OSA to see improvements in sexual function. You know your OSA is impacting on your breathing, blood oxygen levels and testosterone hormone, so now you can combat that by maintaining a regular cardio routine for improved circulation with the recommended supervised 4 x 40 minute workouts over the next six months.
You can also improve the quality of your sleep with the use of a CPAP. We have a range of easy to assemble and easy to use CPAPs that are discreet, affordable and available to be shipped direct to your door. If you’re unsure of whether a CPAP is right for you, you can take our free sleep assessment today to find out.
If better sleep leads to better sexual performance, and better sexual performance leads to better sleep, you and your new CPAP may have just cracked the ultimate code!
Pascual, M., de Batlle, J., Barbé, F., Castro-Grattoni, A. L., Auguet, J. M., Pascual, L., Vilà, M., Cortijo, A., & Sánchez-de-la-Torre, M. (2018). Erectile dysfunction in obstructive sleep apnea patients: A randomized trial on the effects of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). PloS one, 13(8), e0201930
Budweiser S, Enderlein S, Jörres RA, Hitzl AP, Wieland WF, Pfeifer M, et al. Sleep apnea is an independent correlate of erectile and sexual dysfunction. J Sex Med 2009; 6: 3147 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01372.x
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About Catharine Nixon