Saturday, June 4, 2011

Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Erectile Dysfunction

At the American Urological Association's annual meeting in Washington, DC this year, a study was done of 870 men with an average age of 47.3 years. Health screening revealed 63% of men had obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). I do not have more details about how the men knew they had OSA - 63% seems high.

After adjusting for their age and other health conditions (like diabetes, obesity, and smoking status), researchers found that those men with erectile dysfunction (ED) were more than twice as likely to have OSA than those without ED. The more severe the ED, the greater the likelihood of having OSA.

I use this fact in discussing OSA in my younger male patients, as any mention of ED can get them interested in diagnosis and treatment of OSA. The study does not state that OSA causes ED or is just associated with it. We also do not know if treatment will reverse ED.

Some of my female patients with untreated OSA complain about a diminished sexual libido. There could be a common, underlying mechanism in how untreated OSA impacts sexual functioning in both men and women.

Bottom line is that in men with ED, urologists and primary care physicians should consider untreated OSA as a possible contributor.

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