Uncovering the Link Between Sleep Apnea and Low Libido

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can have a dramatic impact upon our lives. Some examples include constant lethargy, depression, an increased risk of developing diabetes, and high blood pressure. However, did you know that sleep apnea is also linked to a low libido?

How are these two conditions related? What impact can OSA have on your sex drive? Perhaps more importantly, are there any effective treatment options? We will address these questions and more.

The Link Between Sleep and Our Mental State

Before moving on to analyze how obstructive sleep apnea can impact the libido, it is wise to highlight how it affects our emotional state. A recent study has found that 90 percent of adults who obtain adequate rest at night are not likely to report anxiety or depression. 

More than 53 percent of people who suffer from chronic OSA state that they feel anxious or depressed on a regular basis. 

There are several reasons behind these rather stark observations. The most obvious is the fact that a lack of sleep will make it more difficult to remain focused and energetic throughout the day. Thus, our motivation will suffer as a result. Poor sleep quality likewise results in a lack of "feel-good" hormones such as serotonin and norepinephrine. Both of these have been linked to depressive states. 

How does mental state result in a low libido? Let's take a quick look at what the experts have to say. 

OSA and Sex: What You Need to Know

There is certainly a relationship between our health and our sex drive. So, it makes sense to examine a host of factors that could very well impact our libido over time. These can be broken down into physical symptoms as well as emotional variables. 

Physical Health

It is a foregone conclusion that those who experience constant fatigue are much less likely to engage in sexual activities due to low energy levels. 

Furthermore, a lack of sleep has been linked to decreased production of testosterone. Testosterone is an important hormone in relation to sexual drive. Low concentrations make it much more difficult to become excited.

Obstructive sleep apnea has also been linked to higher incidence of cardiovascular disease -- with heart disease and high blood pressure impeding the blood supply to sex organs. It may therefore become more difficult to remain aroused. 

A final metric involves diabetes. Those who have already been diagnosed with OSA are much more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Diabetics likewise suffer from circulatory problems, potentially resulting in the inability to obtain and maintain an erection. 

Our Emotional State

Sleep apnea can be viewed as a "double-edged" sword in terms of how it also has a negative impact on our emotional state and sex drive. 

A growing body of evidence suggests that OSA lowers feelings of sexual arousal -- and therefore, the willingness to engage in intercourse. While further studies are required, it is thought that this is due to breathing disruptions during the night -- as well as medications to reduce the OSA symptoms. 

As mentioned previously, obstructive sleep apnea can have a dramatic effect on mood. Those who are tired are more likely to exhibit feelings of stress, anxiety and irritability. These feelings can affect a physical relationship, and libido will suffer as a result. Of course, such emotions can also lead to arguments and similar difficulties.

A final variable is self-esteem. People who are unable to perform sexually are well aware of the problem. This can be embarrassing and as a result, they heap even more pressure on themselves. 

It may even become difficult to enter into a romantic relationship due to fears of disappointing their potential partner. As discussing such a situation is awkward, the resulting emotional rift can be devastating.

How Can Sleep Apnea be Treated?

While low libido is often associated with men, it is important to mention that this scenario can impact both males and females. Unfortunately, the problems outlined throughout this article will normally not resolve themselves without some type of intervention. 

You will be happy to learn that there are several effective ways to reduce the symptoms associated with obstructive sleep apnea. 

One of the most common methods involves the use of a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. A CPAP will provide a steady supply of oxygen during the night. 

The CPAP device helps prevent the airway from narrowing while asleep, reducing instances of snoring and even choking. CPAPs have become highly advanced and can be customized to fit your unique situation. 

Doing Away with Low Libido

Although libido issues are not often mentioned when discussing the effects of sleep apnea, the impact upon one's mental and physical health cannot be overstated. This is why it is always prudent to seek advice from your doctor or a qualified sleep professional. 

There are many potential solutions and the associated technology is continuing to advance. Viable solutions are therefore readily available to resolve your sleep problems – so you can improve every aspect of your life.