Snorers, could CPAP help your sex life, too?

May 24, 2018 by Dennis Thompson, Healthday Reporter

(HealthDay)—Women with sleep apnea might experience a boost in their sex life if they regularly use a CPAP machine, a new study shows.

Researchers found that women who used the device nightly reported a significant improvement in their sexual satisfaction after a year of treatment.

The same benefit was not seen in men, however.

Still, "this [study] provides further evidence that if patients have problems with their sleep, they should be evaluated by their provider because treatment of their can have tremendous benefit in their lives all around," said lead researcher Dr. Sebastian Jara, an otolaryngologist with the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.

Sleep apnea occurs when a person's upper airway becomes blocked during sleep, causing the person to gasp, snore and wake up when the blockage stops their breathing. In adults, obesity is a common cause.

Sleep apnea has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, atrial fibrillation, dementia, kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, pregnancy complications and several forms of cancer, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Many studies also have linked sleep apnea to poor sexual function, particularly in men, Jara said. Men with sleep apnea are more likely to have erectile dysfunction and less frequent sex.

CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines are the main treatment for sleep apnea. Patients wear a mask at bedtime that increases air pressure in their throat, to prevent their airway from collapsing as they sleep.

To test whether using a CPAP machine can improve sexual function, Jara and his colleagues recruited 182 people (115 men and 67 women) with newly diagnosed sleep apnea. These patients answered a quality-of-life survey that included questions about their , including ability to have sex and their desire for sex.

Among the patients, 72 used a CPAP nightly and 110 either did not or could not. Researchers tracked CPAP use through data collected by the device, Jara said.

After a year, patients filled out the same quality-of-life questionnaire again, so researchers could detect any changes.

"We saw a strong effect in women, and a minimal-to-no effect in men," Jara said.

Jara isn't sure why the study didn't reveal a positive effect for men, given previous studies that have tied sleep apnea to poor sex for men.

There are a couple of possible reasons why CPAP produced the improvements that were seen, Jara said.

It could be that sleep apnea is interfering with sexual function in some biological way, or it could be that people using CPAP simply feel better and are more up for sex, he said.

Dr. David Rapoport is a professor of with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

"We know that CPAP when you use it makes you feel better," he said. "If you improve depression, if you improve energy and vitality, it's not terribly surprising that improves. Everybody knows that when you feel lousy, sex is not high on your list."

Rapoport suspects men in the study might have experienced a similar improvement in their sex lives, but researchers simply didn't capture that data.

"Just because you don't show something happening doesn't mean it didn't. It just means you couldn't show it," said Rapoport, who wasn't involved with the research.

The study was published online May 24 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Explore further: Sleep apnea patient finds rest with UK dentistry

More information: Sebastian Jara, M.D., otolaryngologist, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle; David Rapoport, M.D., professor of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City; JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, May 24, 2018

The National Sleep Foundation has more about CPAP machines.

Related Stories

Sleep apnea patient finds rest with UK dentistry

April 5, 2018
When Danville native Linda Pike was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea in 2010, she was relieved to finally discover a name for the condition that had kept her from getting a good night's rest for years. Her troubles ...

Sleep apnea treatment may reverse unhealthy brain changes

September 15, 2015
(HealthDay)—Sleep apnea treatment may reverse changes in brain stem activity associated with increased risk of heart disease, a new study suggests.

Adherence to sleep apnea treatment affects risk of hospital readmission

February 22, 2018
A study of patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) suggests that non-adherence to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is significantly associated with increased 30-day hospital readmissions.

People with epilepsy may gain from common sleep apnea treatment

December 4, 2017
(HealthDay)—It's been used by many people to help ease sleep apnea, but new research suggests the CPAP mask may also help ease seizures in people with epilepsy.

Study finds that CPAP therapy reduces acid reflux in people with sleep apnea

October 3, 2016
A new study suggests that CPAP therapy may help improve the symptoms of nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux in patients with obstructive sleep apnea.

Videotaping sleepers raises CPAP use

July 24, 2017
(HealthDay)—A video may be worth a thousand words for someone with sleep apnea.

Recommended for you

Sleep apnea, congenital heart disease may be deadly mix for hospitalized infants

September 17, 2018
Infants often aren't screened for sleep apnea, but a new study suggests the disorder may be tied to an increased risk of death in infants with congenital heart disease.

Sleep deficiency increases risk of a motor vehicle crash

April 4, 2018
Excessive sleepiness can cause cognitive impairments and put individuals at a higher risk of motor vehicle crash. However, the perception of impairment from excessive sleepiness quickly plateaus in individuals who are chronically ...

Sleep apnea study finds male-female differences in cerebral cortex thickness, symptoms

March 13, 2018
Researchers from the UCLA School of Nursing examined clinical records and magnetic resonance imaging brain scans of patients who were recently diagnosed with sleep apnea, and discovered several apparent connections between ...

Synthetic cannabinoid reduces sleep apnea

November 29, 2017
A synthetic version of a molecule found in the cannabis plant was safe and effective in treating obstructive sleep apnea in the first large, multi-site study of a drug for the sleep disorder funded by the National Institutes ...

Sleeping through the snoring: Researchers identify neurons that rouse the brain to breathe

November 2, 2017
A common and potentially serious sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea affects at least one quarter of U.S. adults and is linked to increased risk of diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. In a paper published today ...

Remede system approved for sleep apnea

October 9, 2017
(HealthDay)—The Remede sleep system, an implanted device that treats central sleep apnea by activating a nerve that sends signals to the diaphragm to stimulate breathing, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.