For many adults around the world, erectile dysfunction (ED) is a significant problem. According to the International Journal of Impotence Research, 322 million men worldwide are expected to suffer from erectile dysfunction by 2025. This condition can develop for various reasons, one of which is obstructive sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition in which the individual affected repeatedly stops and starts breathing during sleep. Though the connection between sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction is still being studied, research shows that the relationship between these conditions is significant.
For those who want to learn more about the connection between sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction, here are three key takeaways to remember:
- Sleep apnea can cause erectile dysfunction.
- Erectile dysfunction can result from common symptoms of OSA, including fatigue and low blood pressure.
- Sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction treatments are available in the form of oral appliances, CPAP machines, and surgery.
As you learn about erectile dysfunction and mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, don’t wait to get treatment—use these resources to find the relief you’ve been waiting for.
Can sleep apnea cause erectile dysfunction?
Although sleep apnea is one of the least-studied risk factors for erectile dysfunction, research confirms a relationship between OSA and ED. One study found that 69 percent of men who suffered from OSA also experienced ED. What’s more, another study of 55 men with ED identified 69 percent of its participants who also exhibited symptoms of OSA. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction have a connection that cannot be ignored.
How does sleep apnea cause ED?
Sleep apnea can cause erectile dysfunction in a variety of ways. While some reasons may be more common than others, each of these factors may influence the likelihood of OSA triggering ED:
- Fatigue: Tiredness and fatigue are common symptoms of OSA. Being tired is a common cause of erectile dysfunction and can prevent proper sexual function.
- Stress: Whether it be psychological, professional, or personal, stress can interrupt the signals between your brain and body. Studies show that patients who suffer from sleep apnea also show high levels of stress and other emotional disorders, all of which can contribute to ED.
- Blood pressure: Without proper blood pressure and blood flow, men are much more likely to experience erectile dysfunction. OSA is known to cause high blood pressure in patients, making it more likely for them to develop erectile dysfunction.
- Testosterone: Testosterone is a necessary chemical that helps to facilitate erections. When the body’s testosterone levels decrease, erectile dysfunction may follow. Studies show that time spent awake during certain hours of the night can dramatically impact the body’s testosterone production. If this sleep deprivation happens frequently, erectile dysfunction is more likely to occur.
- Oxygen: During an apneic episode, a person with OSA cannot get the amount of oxygen that their body needs. These episodes can also lead to an overall reduction in blood oxygen levels. And lower oxygen levels can result in erectile dysfunction.
As the research shows, having symptoms of OSA makes proper sexual function less likely. Whether the cause is mental or physical, sleep apnea can trigger erectile dysfunction and significantly disrupt your life if left untreated.
What can you do about it?
There’s no doubt about it: Sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction are connected. But does having obstructive sleep apnea mean you are destined to suffer from poor sleep and ED forever? Definitely not. Many effective, uncomplicated, and accessible treatments are available to help address obstructive sleep apnea:
- Oral Appliances: Oral appliances are devices worn in the mouth during sleep. They help to open the airway by moving the jaw forward, preventing apneic episodes during sleep. By using these appliances, men can reduce their symptoms of OSA and their chances of erectile dysfunction.
- CPAP: CPAP machines prevent OSA symptoms by producing a continuous air stream to a patient’s airway, preventing its collapse during sleep. Through the use of CPAP machines, men can get the proper sleep they need for healthy sexual function.
- Surgery: Several surgical operations exist that can expand a person’s airway, allowing them to remedy their symptoms of OSA. As their OSA is treated surgically, men will undoubtedly experience results in their sexual functionality.
- Self-care: Obesity, alcohol use, and smoking can also lead to obstructive sleep apnea. As you work to treat these conditions, you will likely see results in both your sleep apnea symptoms and your sexual health.
Although sleep apnea can cause erectile dysfunction through different physical and mental channels, you don’t have to suffer the consequences permanently. By beginning one or more of these sleep apnea treatments, you could be on your way to addressing other health concerns like ED.
Interested in long-term treatment solutions for OSA? Visit vivos.com to learn more.
1. Padmanabhan, P., & McCullough, A. R. (2007). Penile oxygen saturation in the flaccid and erect penis in men with and without erectile dysfunction. Journal of andrology, 28(2), 223–228. doi:10.2164/jandrol.106.001313
2. 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. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0201930
3. Wittert G. (2014). The relationship between sleep disorders and testosterone in men. Asian journal of andrology, 16(2), 262–265. doi:0.4103/1008-682X.122586
4. Yafi, F. A., Jenkins, L., Albersen, M., Corona, G., Isidori, A. M., Goldfarb, S., Maggi, M., Nelson, C. J., Parish, S., Salonia, A., Tan, R., Mulhall, J. P., & Hellstrom, W. J. (2016). Erectile dysfunction. Nature reviews. Disease primers, 2, 16003. doi:10.1038/nrdp.2016.3
The statements made on this website are for educational purposes and include articles, educational materials, and research on various topics within the Sleep and Dental industries and are not the views of, or are in connection with Vivos Therapeutics and/or its regulated products. The statements are not intended to accompany any required product labeling for a regulated product. Neither are such statements intended to introduce a new indication, patient population, alter the directions for use, or otherwise change or supplement any required labeling for a regulated product.