Skip to content

    Erectile Dysfunction and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

    tired man

    Feeling tired?  There are many reasons why we sleep poorly, from insomnia to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  Regardless of the reason, lack of sleep or lack of quality sleep can make us unpleasant people to be around, and sustained lack of sleep has been linked to more serious problems like diabetes.  In fact, difficulties sleeping often point to other underlying issues, even ones that seem to be unrelated to sleep — like impotence, for example.

    For men, at least.  A new study links sleep disorders and sexual impotency.  Specifically, the study examined the relationship between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and erectile dysfunction.  OSA afflicts more than 12 million Americans and is characterized by repeated stops and starts of breathing during sleep when throat muscles relax and block the airway.  Left untreated, those with sleep apnea suffer from poor quality sleep and chronic sleep deprivation, leading to health issues that can be life-threatening: weight gain, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems.

    The study found that

    • Men with erectile dysfunction were more than twice as likely to have OSA than those without erectile dysfunction.
    • The more severe the erectile dysfunction, the greater the likelihood of having OSA
    • Men with erectile dysfunction should probably be screened for OSA

    This is bad news for men, but somewhat of a break for women — most studies show quite a discrepancy between the effects lack of sleep brings men versus women. For instance, if a woman gets fewer than 8 hours of sleep, her risk for heart disease goes up, but men don’t seem to show such as great a risk of heart disease from lack of sleep.  This link between OSA and erectile dysfunction is obviously a uniquely male problem — and one that should be noted by men with either condition.

    Getting a good night’s sleep can do a world of good for your whole body.  Get screened for OSA and if you have OSA, make sure to use your CPAP machine, oral appliance or other prescribed treatment on a regular basis.  Improve your overall sleep with better sleep hygiene.  After all, everything you do, you do better with a good night’s sleep — everything.

    Sweet Dreams,

    Michael J. Breus, PhD
    The Sleep Doctor™
    The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan:  Lose Weight Through Better Sleep
    Everything you do, you do better with a good night’s sleep™
    twitter: @thesleepdoctor

    Photo: iStockphoto

    The opinions expressed in WebMD Second Opinion are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Second Opinion are... Expand

    URAC Seal TRUSTe Privacy Certification TAG Registered Seal HONcode Seal AdChoices