Therapy boosts sexual function in sleep disorder patients

Men who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a sleep related breathing disorder, are seeing another potential benefit from continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP) — improved sexual function and satisfaction in non-diabetic men under 60.

CPAP is the most common and effective treatment for OSA, which keeps the airway open and restores normal oxygen levels during sleep. This helps maintain a steady, healthy level of breathing through the night.

A study out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre in Bethesda, assessed the erectile function (ED) and libido of 92 men newly diagnosed with OSA, who were starting CPAP therapy.

OSA occurs when the tissue in the back of the throat collapses and blocks the airway, causing the body to stop breathing during sleep. OSA can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to a Walter Reed statement.

ED is common in OSA patients, and nearly half of the men in the Walter Reed study reported the presence of ED. Patients were assessed again after one, three and six months of CPAP therapy.

The results show that CPAP improved the sexual function and satisfaction in the majority of men in the study regardless of their level of erectile function reported at the very start. Those with ED had more robust improvements and even many without ED reported improved sexual function and satisfaction.

“We were surprised at how prevalent ED is in a relatively young population of men with sleep apnea. The average age was 45,” said Joseph Dombrowsky, the study’s primary investigator from Walter Reed.

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“But we were similarly surprised at how robust a clinically significant response the men had with CPAP therapy.”

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