Sleep Apnea and Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and erectile dysfunction (ED), though they appear to be two very different conditions, can be linked. Researchers have found a high prevalence of ED in men who suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), indicating a clear correlation between the two. Why is this, and how can each condition be treated?


Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Being able to get or keep an erection is not necessarily an indication of obstructive sleep apnea. Sometimes stress, fatigue, or drinking too much alcohol can cause these performance issues. However, if these things happen regularly, the cause could be physical, emotional, or both. 

According to Medical News Today, erectile dysfunction can be due to physical factors such as:

  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • obesity
  • substance use, such as smoking
  • hormonal disorders, such as thyroid conditions
  • taking medications, such as antidepressants

Emotional problems, such as guilt or feelings of depression, can also cause ED.

Can Sleep Apnea Cause ED?

Though not yet fully understood, enough evidence exists to show a clear correlation between Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and erectile dysfunction (ED). For instance, a 2016 study found erectile dysfunction in approximately 63% of study participants with sleep apnea, while a separate study of 401 participants found that 69% of those with sleep apnea also suffered from ED.* Numerous other studies portray how sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction appear to be closely connected. Why is this?

Multiple research studies point to poor sleep quality or chronic sleep deprivation as clear factors contributing to overall sexual dysfunction. Poor sleep quality, leading to excessive daytime sleepiness, also happens to be a common symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Stress and fatigue associated with this lack of sleep can contribute to decreased sexual desire and the inability to perform sexually.

Evidence suggests that sleep disorders such as OSA can also negatively impact testosterone levels, which can contribute to ED. Men produce testosterone – a hormone essential to sexual function – mainly during sleep. Poor sleep has therefore been linked to reduced testosterone levels, resulting in lower strength levels, lower energy, lower stamina, and a decrease in libido. The ability to achieve and maintain an erection is thus significantly reduced, as well.

Signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) also include frequent sleep disruptions and loud, disruptive snoring. With these indicators, you’re more likely to experience reduced oxygen levels, which can impact your health negatively in a myriad of ways. This includes but is not limited to – you guessed it – increased cases of ED.


Treating sleep Apnea and ED

Sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction (ED) have several possible causes and are not always related. However, in numerous instances where the two have been linked, studies have exhibited that treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) may also positively treat erectile dysfunction (ED). When you treat mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) with an oral appliance like our SomnoMed Avant, this custom and comfortable device will move your jaw and tongue forward while you sleep to open up your airway. The increased testosterone and oxygen levels that result will often assist with eliminating ED, as well as treating your sleep apnea effectively.

If you or a loved one is suffering from any of the symptoms listed above, talk to a doctor about getting tested and treated for OSA, potentially with a SomnoMed oral device. Treating sleep apnea will improve your quality of life on many different levels!

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