Can Sleep Apnea Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

While sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction (ED) may appear to be two very separate concerns, multiple research studies show that poor sleep quality or chronic sleep deprivation can indeed affect or disrupt your sex life and increase your risk for developing heart disease and other serious health problems. The link between sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction is not fully understood and requires further scientific research, however, numerous studies show sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction in men are closely intertwined.

One example is the correlation between low testosterone and sleep deprivation. While age and lifestyle are both factors in healthy testosterone levels and sexual function, fortunately, sleep is something within our control – unless there are underlying sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that occurs far more often in men than women. Unfortunately, there’s an old joke about men and doctors – the two fastest ways to get a man to see a doctor are an ambulance and erection problems. Don’t gamble with your health, get checked. Here’s why:

The Bad News on Sleep and ED

In 2018, one research study found that in a group of men with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), just over half of them had ED. Older research studies showed up to 69 percent of men with sleep disorders experience some form of sexual dysfunction. While age and lifestyle are also factors, sleep is something we can control and even improve through adopting good sleep hygiene practices and seeking treatment for sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea. For instance, if you snore regularly or experience regular daytime drowsiness, get checked by your doctor or a sleep specialist.

  1. Impaired Testosterone Production: Sleep is the body’s self-maintenance mode. Men produce testosterone (a hormone critical to sexual function) at night. Lack of quality sleep for untreated sleep disorders like sleep apnea can reduce testosterone levels, thus lowering energy, strength, stamina, and libido, and impairing the ability to achieve and maintain an erection. No thanks!
  2. Sleep Deprivation: Men who feel fatigued and stressed may experience sexual problems and decreased desire.  Poor performance or the inability to achieve and maintain an erection is going to keep you up at night for all the wrong reasons and cause anxiety as a bonus. To improve the quality and duration of your night’s rest, adopt good sleep hygiene practices and see your doctor.
  3. Reduced Oxygen Levels: Oxygen plays an important element in achieving and maintaining healthy erections and your overall health, so any long-term deficiency can lead to bigger problems, both in and out of bed. If you snore a lot or experience sleep disruptions, you’re more likely to experience the effects of reduced blood oxygenation that impact overall health in a multitude of ways, including increased incidences of erectile dysfunction. Get checked.

The Good News on Sleep and ED

Studies have shown that treatment of obstructive sleep apnea may help ease ED symptoms by improving oxygen levels and overall sleep quality, which in turn help boost natural testosterone production. Seek professional treatment for any sleep symptoms such as chronic snoring, excessive daytime tiredness, morning headaches, irritability, or difficulty concentrating. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, and losing weight may also help. If you’re experiencing regular or intermittent erectile dysfunction, talk to your doctor.

Still not sure? Err on the side of caution, take a deep breath, and just make an appointment to get checked by your doctor for possible sleep disorders or other health issues. We promise it’s a lot less painful than dealing with the effects of sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction. It’ll be our secret.

Consult a Sleep Specialist

Related Read: How Poor Sleep Affects Your Sex Drive