According to the results of a recent study, men with sleep apnea who have erectile dysfunction (ED) benefit more from sleep apnea treatment than they do from ED drugs.

Small Study of Two Treatments

The study by Australian researchers selected 61 men from Melbourne and Sydney with both ED and sleep apnea, but had never been treated. The men were randomly selected to receive either CPAP treatment (30 men) or dummy treatment (31 men). A different random selection was chosen to receive ED drugs (31 men) or placebo pills (30 men). This means that the men either received two placebo treatments, CPAP and a placebo, dummy CPAP and ED drugs, or CPAP and ED drugs.

Men were then followed for three months, and underwent at least one additional sleep study. They were surveyed about their subjective experience and their sexual health was objectively measured.

Objective and Subjective Measures of Health

One of the concerns researchers sought to address was the presence or absence of nighttime erections. Sexually healthy men regularly experience erections during REM sleep, about one every 90 minutes. This helps keep the sexual system functioning, but when men have sleep apnea, REM sleep is often interrupted, preventing the occurrence of erections, which can contribute to sexual dysfunction.

During a sleep study, researchers measured erections during sleep and found that CPAP treatment increased the number of erections experienced by the subjects. They also found that in surveys about their sexual experience, men who got CPAP generally reported better results than those who just got ED drugs.

However, researchers caution that because ED has a variety of causes, CPAP might not work for every man.

But Is Treatment a Barrier to Intimacy?

Unfortunately, there is a problem with this study, because CPAP itself can be a barrier to intimacy among couples. The mask, hose, and machine, separates couples in their most intimate space, and can be disruptive of the other partner’s sleep.

The good news is that there is an alternative treatment which is more discreet and less disruptive. Oral appliances can treat your sleep apnea without the need for intrusive equipment, and for many people they work just as well if not better than CPAP.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of sleep apnea treatment, and your treatment options, we can help. Please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.