It’s reasonable to assume that impotence causes a certain amount of sleep loss, but now researchers say they may have established that the reverse is the case: Sleep apnea–waking up repeatedly because of an interruption in breathing– may be a cause of impotence.
Researchers have known of a link between the two conditions for a long time. Both seem to involve a nerve malfunction. This suggests a common apnea treatment may also help relieve impotence, they say.
Sleep apnea is a repeated interruption of breathing during sleep. Impotence, also called erectile dysfunction, is a consistent inability to get an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse.
“Physicians involved in the diagnosis of erectile dysfunction must take into account sleep apnea” as a possible factor, says Francesco Fanfulla, MD.
Fanfulla, who is with the Maugeri Foundation Rehabilitation Center of Montescano, Italy, is the lead author of a study reported in the September 15, 2000, issue of the journal Sleep. The foundation funded the study, he said.
The study investigated a fact doctors had noticed for many years: a strikingly high number of patients suffer from both impotence and sleep apnea.
Past studies suggest that roughly 30-50% of obstructive sleep apnea patients are impotent, Fanfulla said, and some 28% of impotence patients have obstructive sleep apnea.
Fanfulla said that if past research holds up, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) may prove to be a good impotence treatment.
CPAP, the most common apnea therapy, feeds air into the throat during sleep via a mask and pump. It keeps throat tissue from collapsing together and blocking air flow.
Article By: Jack Lucentini, Medical Writer