CPAP Use Improves Sexual Function in Younger Men

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While continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP) improves rest and conditions related to sleep disruption, it has another benefit especially important to patients: an improvement in sexual function and satisfaction.

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center researchers assessed the erectile function and libido of 92 nondiabetic men who were newly diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and prescribed CPAP therapy. Almost half of the men in the study had complained of erectile dysfunction before starting treatment.1

In assessments after one, three and six months of CPAP therapy, the majority of the study participants reported improved sexual function and satisfaction. Interestingly, the level of erectile function reported at the beginning did not appear to mitigate the positive effect, except that those with ED had more-robust improvements. Even many participants who had never actually suffered ED reported improved sexual function and satisfaction.

At baseline, researchers found that ED was present in 45.6% of the men, who averaged 45.8 years old, and 27.2% had decreased libido. In follow-ups, regular use of CPAP was associated with an 88.3% improvement in overall sexual satisfaction in a questionaire, a 71.7% improved in erectile dysfunction and normalization of erectile function in 41.2%.

“We were surprised at how prevalent ED is in a relatively young population of men with sleep apnea. The average age was 45,” said Joseph Dombrowsky, MD, the study’s primary investigator. “But we were similarly surprised at how robust a clinically significant response the men had with CPAP therapy.”

OSA is commonly treated with CPAP, because the steady flow of air keeps the airway open and restores normal oxygen levels during sleep.

The abstract “The prevalence of erectile dysfunction and impact of CPAP therapy: a prospective analysis” was presented recently at SLEEP 2012, the 26th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS) in Boston.

  1. Dombrowsky, J. 2012. “The prevalence of erectile dysfunction and impact of CPAP therapy: a prospective analysis,” Boston, Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

Sleep Dysfunction in Vets with Spinal Court Injuries

A study of veterans with spinal-cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D) found significant associations of sleep dysfunction with weight gain, smoking, alcohol misuse and select chronic conditions such as COPD and asthma. 1

Researchers from the Center for Management of Complex Chronic Care at the Hines, IL, VAMC and the Institute for Healthcare Studies at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, sought to determine how sleep dysfunction, not including sleep apnea, in patients with traumatic and nontraumatic SCI/D affected health outcomes. The study was published online recently by the journal Spinal Cord.

Noting that the findings are consistent with epidemiological evidence for the general population, the authors noted, “Sustained sleep dysfunction may contribute to health deterioration and mortality, highlighting the need to address the high prevalence of sleep dysfunction … in persons with SCI/D. In particular, efforts aimed at modifying problematic weight gain, alcohol misuse and smoking are warranted in this cohort to improve sleep.”

Participants from seven VA spinal-cord-injury care facilities were mailed cross-sectional surveys and then contacted in follow-up calls completed by the end of 2008.

Overall, researchers found, 49% of the sample had sleep dysfunction unrelated to sleep apnea. Bivariate analyses showed that a greater proportion of dysfunctional sleepers than nondysfunctional sleepers in the subgroup were current smokers, had problems with alcohol and problematic weight gain and/or suffered from hypertension, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

1.    Lavela SL, Burns SP, Goldstein B, Miskevics S, Smith B, Weaver FM.
Dysfunctional sleep in persons with spinal cord injuries and disorders. Spinal Cord.
2012 Apr 17. doi: 10.1038/sc.2012.31. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 22508535.

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