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Sleep Apnea Gear Doesn't Squelch Sex Life, Study Says

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WEDNESDAY, Oct. 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Your sex life is unlikely to suffer because of sleep apnea treatment, according to a new study.

People with sleep apnea experience periods of disrupted breathing throughout sleep. This can lead to daytime fatigue, high blood pressure and other health conditions.

The gold standard of sleep apnea treatment involves going to bed wearing a mask or nosepiece with a hose that's attached to a machine that provides a steady stream of air to keep the airways open during sleep. This is called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).

Many patients who use CPAP believe it makes them less sexually attractive, which may make them less likely to comply with treatment, according to the researchers from Rosalind Franklin University in Chicago.

To find out more about how CPAP affects patients' sex lives, the researchers surveyed 52 patients who were prescribed the treatment. Of those patients, 27 were compliant (meaning they used CPAP more than four hours a night on 70 percent of nights) and 25 were not compliant.

All were asked 10 questions related to physical and emotional aspects of lovemaking, the researchers said.

After adjusting for other factors, the investigators found that compliant and non-compliant patients had similar sexual quality-of-life scores.

The findings, published Oct. 21 in the journal Chest, will be presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians in Austin, Texas.

"This study suggests that CPAP compliance does not impair sexual quality of life in patients with sleep apnea," Dr. Mark Rosen, medical director of the college, said in an association news release.

Erectile dysfunction is common in men with sleep apnea, but previous research has shown that CPAP improves erectile dysfunction in these patients, according to the college.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about CPAP.

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