Can a CPAP Machine Improve Your Sex Life?

For those who are not familiar with it, CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) is a mask-and-tube device that few might call “sexy.” Worn during sleep, it sends a steady flow of air through the mask into breathing passages to keep airways open and restore depleted oxygen levels. It’s the most common and effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which occurs when tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep, blocking air, disrupting sleep and boosting the risk of health problems such as heart disease and stroke.  It is diagnosed via sleep studies and is increasingly common among us Suddenly Solos.

Well, a team of doctors from the Sleep Disorders Center of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center has found that erectile dysfunction is common in younger men with sleep apnea, but that E.D. – and libido – improves in men who use the CPAP.

Over the past few years, medical science has repeatedly shown that how a man’s penis is working can reflect how the rest of his body is working. E.D. can be an early sign of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and poor fitness, among other ailments.

So when army captain Dr. Joseph Dombrowsky looked at a small handful of studies that had linked apnea to E.D., he realized that he had access to a pool of possible test subjects – military beneficiaries newly diagnosed with the sleep disorder – that he could use to explore the link.

Dombrowsky and his colleagues recruited 92 men with an average age of nearly 46 who had both a new diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, and who were starting therapy with CPAP machines.

More than half of patients with mild E.D., or some 54 percent, noticed an improvement after CPAP use. Nearly 29 percent of those with moderate E.D. improved, and more than 27 percent of those with severe E.D. saw a boost. Sexual desire also tended to improve, Dombrowsky found.

Drugs like Viagra have been shown to work more powerfully to improve E.D. than CPAP therapy, but Dombrowsky speculates that by starting CPAP before the condition gets worse, some men might be able to skip the pills.

While stressing that he was speaking for himself, not for his research team, the army, or the U.S. government, Dombrowsky said he believes that CPAP therapy might be a good early therapy for E.D., particularly in younger men.


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