If you are struggling with getting erections and finding it difficult to sleep, the two conditions may be directly linked. From years of research, sleep disorders have been found to impact oxygen and testosterone levels in men, causing erectile dysfunction.
One of the most common sleep disorders is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It is a potentially serious condition that can reduce the quality of life of affected persons. People with obstructive sleep apnea might stop breathing in their sleep, snore loudly, and generally find it difficult to sleep.
A 2009 study found that of 92 percent of male participants with ED, 69 percent also had OSA.
While scientists are still not sure why there’s a higher rate of ED in men with obstructive sleep apnea, sleep deprivation causes a drop in testosterone. OSA may also restrict oxygen. Oxygen and testosterone are essential in getting and maintaining erections.
Additionally, stress and fatigue from lack of good sleep can make struggles of getting erections even worse.
Causes of sleep apnea
One of the major causes of sleep apnea is the airways become too narrow during sleep.
In obstructive sleep apnea, the throat muscles cannot open the airways during sleep. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain does not correctly control breathing during sleep.
Airways that become too narrow cause most cases of sleep apnea.
Other causes of ED include;
- increased age
- low testosterone levels or other hormone imbalances
- kidney disease
- cardiovascular disease
- hypertension, or high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
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According to research, treating OSA can also relieve ED symptoms.
Men with OSA who use positive airway pressure (CPAP)_- a treatment form where a mask is placed over your nose to deliver air pressure- usually experience improved erections. This is because men who use CPAP sleep better, which raises their testosterone levels.
Additionally, a person with OSA can benefit from tissue removal surgery. In 2013, a study found that men with sleep apnea who underwent uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), a form of tissue removal surgery, noticed decreased erectile dysfunction symptoms.
Other forms of treatment for OSA asides the CPAP and tissue removal surgeries include;
- Using expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP) devices over each nostril to increase air pressure
- Using an oral device to keep your throat open while you sleep
- Using additional oxygen
- Treating underlying health conditions that may cause or contribute to sleep apnea
If the sleep disorder is severe and other treatment options don’t work, your healthcare provider might recommend surgery. This could be moving the jaw, adjusting the airways, or removing tonsils.
Lifestyle modifications like quitting smoking and losing weight may help reduce symptoms in cases where the sleep disorder is not severe.