Has your partner ever mentioned that your obnoxiously loud snoring kept them awake the whole night? Do you feel unwavering bouts of tiredness during the day, despite getting a good night’s rest?
And, most importantly, has your sex life been dismantled at seemingly about the same time you’ve been facing these issues?
Before you try to dismiss these problems as your partner’s imagination or simple exhaustion, you’re likely facing undiagnosed sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea can occur in anyone, but most obstructive sleep apnea patients are men. In fact, one study shows that the prevalence of men with obstructive sleep apnea and daytime sleepiness is about 7%. For women, that figure is only about 5%.
And unfortunately, sleep apnea can also have a significant impact on your sex life. It can cause erectile dysfunction and low libido, making sex less enjoyable and frequent.
Read on to learn more about the consequences of sleep apnea on a man’s sexual function, as well as what can be done about it.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders that occurs when you’re unable to breathe properly during sleep. This can cause loud snoring, as well as periods of shallow breathing or even complete pauses in breathing (apneas).
There are three main types of sleep apnea, namely:
- Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome: Your throat muscles relax and block air from entering and exiting.
- Central sleep apnea: Your brain fails to send proper signals to the muscles that help you breathe.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome: The patient has symptoms of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Many health conditions and physical attributes can also cause sleep apnea. This may include:
- Alcohol abuse
- Neurological diseases
- Heart issues
If you have sleep apnea that’s ruining your sex life, it’s important to talk to a doctor to treat sleep apnea.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
These breathing disruptions can give rise to a variety of worrying health symptoms. Some common sleep apnea symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing when asleep
- Dry mouth upon waking up
- Night sweats
- Fatigue from morning to evening
- Feelings of restlessness
- Frequent urination
Interestingly, slightly more than half of the patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) also reported having several forms of sexual health conditions, particularly erectile dysfunction.
The evidence shed to light in these studies proves that there’s a closely related connection between these two medical conditions, even if they seem far apart at a glance.
Sleep Apnea-Testosterone Relationship
Sleep apnea can cause sleep deprivation, and having the right amount of sleep is one of the most important factors to having optimal testosterone levels.
Testosterone is a male sex hormone that’s responsible for a myriad of male characteristics. Having too little of it can cause problems, such as:
- Less energy
- Worse sex drive
- Bad mood
Why does this matter? Well, when you’re in deep sleep or REM sleep, your body undergoes the process of rejuvenation. This is when your cells start to repair themselves and produce healthy chemicals to replace the ones that have died. To enter this stage of sleep, you have to be asleep for around 4 hours or more.
However, sleep apnea disrupts this healing process. It forces you to involuntarily wake up during sleep in the form of shallow breaths due to oxygen deprivation. You don’t often remember waking up in the night to gasp for air, but this can happen up to 8 to 10 times a night for patients with moderate sleep apnea.
The constant interruption caused by sleep apnea is prohibiting you from entering the REM sleep stage, and subsequently, hampers the development of the vital testosterone hormone. The decrease in T levels can lead to a variety of negative aftereffects, causing symptoms like a decreased libido.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea and Erectile Dysfunction
Low testosterone isn’t the only problem caused by sleep apnea. Symptoms of OSA and ED can also overlap.
For instance, fatigue and poor sleep quality can increase cortisol levels in the body. An increase in cortisol production can negatively affect blood pressure, which can cause less blood to flow to the penis.
Another prime example is alcohol abuse. One study found that people who drank more alcohol are at higher risk of developing sleep apnea since it relaxes the muscles. In a similar vein, alcohol can interfere with the brain’s receptors and fail to send the nerve signals to send blood to the penis. Case in point, a whiskey dick.
An unhealthy relationship with food can also contribute to sleep apnea. According to several cross-sectional studies, they have traced one of the most common causes of sleep apnea is obesity.
In the study, about 40% of obese individuals are known to have some form of the condition. That same study also claims that 70% of people with the disease are categorized as obese.
The same holds true for people with erectile dysfunction. Obesity can be a risk factor for ED since it causes fat to accumulate in the various arteries in the body. As a result, these narrowed arteries can restrict blood flow to the penis, making it difficult for men to achieve and maintain an erection.
Sexual Dysfunction and Sleep Apnea Treatment
If you find yourself relating to some of the above symptoms, don’t lose hope.
There are various ways you can get your health back in order. It all starts by identifying the problem, then identifying the right treatment plan with a medical professional.
Here are some ways you can get treated for sexual health issues caused by sleep apnea.
- Use a continuous positive airway pressure machine
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a T-rich diet
- Stop binge drinking
- Lose weight
Ft. Lauderdale’s Leading Men’s Clinic Can Help Combat Sexual Health Issues
Sleep apnea can be a frustrating condition to have, especially if you’re facing sexual issues on top of it.
Need assistance? Our doctors at Preferred Men’s Medical Center will be more than happy to assist your clinical needs.
Our medical professionals specialize in treating conditions that impact men’s health. Our concierge approach positions your unique case at the centerpoint of our focus. We don’t just give you a pill for ED and send you on your way. We treat the underlying issues that led to conditions such as ED, Low Testosterone, and more. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.