This Article is About
sleep
restless leg syndrome
sleep apnea
hormone testosterone
sleep studies
sleep study
sexual medicine
sleep deprivation
health risks
both genders
Sleep Apnea May Cause Sexual Dysfunction Women As Well As Men
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Sleep Apnea May Cause Sexual Dysfunction Women As Well As Men

Sleep apnea has long been considered a major problem in both genders, causing a number of different health issues. Studies have shown that even minor sleep deprivation can cause some of these health risks and may increase the risk of sexual dysfunction for both men and women.

Sleep apnea itself is diagnosed after extensive sleep studies and other testing is completed. in most cases, the patient will discuss additional symptoms that arise whether they think they are connected to the sleep apnea or not, however, in the case of erectile dysfunction (ED) or sexual problems in women, there may be some reluctance to share, so it is not always noted. That might push the number of people who are affected by sexual problems directly related to their sleep issues much higher.

It is currently estimated that over thirty million men in the United States have some level of problem with erectile dysfunction, defined as the inability to achieve or sustain an erection for the purpose of sexual activity. Over fifteen percent of men over the age of seventy report problems with ED but the number is suspected to be higher. Nearly fifty percent of women also reported some issue with sexual dysfunction according to a study which has been published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. The study’s author believes that in the majority of those cases, sleep apnea is to blame.

Other issues have also been linked to sleep apnea, including restless leg syndrome, both believed to be related to a problem with a neurotransmitter called dopamine. But erectile dysfunction may be caused more than just a faulty neurotransmitter related to sleep apnea.

In a sleep study, several healthy, young men were asked to submit to several nights of disrupted sleep as well as other nights where they were not allowed to have sleep at all. In the conclusion of that study, it was discovered that these healthy young men had a serious decline in the hormone, testosterone. In the average male, testosterone is produced in the body while it is asleep, with the level climbing steadily during the night and then peaking in the morning. The study also showed that it was not just quantity of sleep hours but quality of sleep that had an impact on the production of testosterone. Men who did not go through the sleep phase called REM sleep also had lowered levels of this hormone.

More research will be needed to find the exact link for why sleep apnea impacts the sexual abilities and desires of both men and women, but one theory is that it is directly related to lowered oxygen levels in the brain. The researchers will also look at the benefit of using a continuous positive airway pressure machine, also called a CPAP machine. In some cases, the CPAP has been found to give positive benefits, including improved sexual function.


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