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Sleep Apnea and Erectile Dysfunction: What’s the Link?

Few things are as of great a concern to a man as erectile dysfunction but now there is evidence it can be caused by sleep apnea.

When there is a "kink" in the machinery, it can create anxiety so knowing a cause can make a big difference.  One area which has received more attention in recent years is the possibility of a link between sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction.

Sleep apnea

Most people have heard of sleep apnea, but not everyone really knows what it is. According to the Mayo Clinic, sleep apnea is defined as "a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts." Those with sleep apnea tend to snore very loudly and they often awake from a night's sleep feeling unrested.

3 Types of Sleep Apnea:

- Obstructive, which is caused by the manner in which the throat muscles relax or tighten;

- Central, which means the brain isn't properly sending messages to the muscles to regulate the breathing; and

- Complex syndrome, which is a combination of the other two forms

In addition to loud snoring and feeling unrested, a person with sleep apnea may experience periods of wakefulness during the night, insomnia, dry mouth, irritability, attention issues, sleepiness or morning headaches.

Erectile Dysfunction Connection

Sleep apnea is unpleasant, but what might it have to do with erectile dysfunction? Well, there definitely seems to be a connection - many men with it also report issues with obtaining or maintaining an erection.

Although studies are ongoing to provide a definitive answer, there seem to be two ways in which sleep apnea may contribute to poor erectile function.

- Testosterone production

Studies (both in animals and humans) have found when male subjects are placed in a situation in which they receive an inadequate amount of sleep, their testosterone levels are negatively affected. Since chronic sleep apnea impacts a man's sound sleep, this may result in lowered testosterone - which in turn has an impact on libido and erectile function.

- Nitric oxide production

In addition, some studies have shown that men with sleep apnea produce less nitric oxide, which is valuable for increasing blood flow to the penis. When that blood flow is impeded, erections are more difficult to achieve and maintain.

Treatment

Men who think they have sleep apnea (whether it is affecting their erectile function or not) should consult with a doctor. Treatment often involves using what is called a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, which is used at night to keep a continuous flow of air going into the body. But sometimes there are other options that can be equally effective, such as losing weight or stopping smoking.

Erectile dysfunction from sleep apnea (or other causes) may require specific strategies for treatment, but regardless of the course chosen, it pays to keep the penis in good general health.

Daily use of a first class penis health cream is always a plus. It may interest men to know that some cremes contain L-arginine, an amino acid that is very helpful in creating nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide plays a role in keeping blood flowing to the penis in an appropriate manner. Try to make sure that the crème also contains vitamin C, which is a key component of collagen, a tissue in the body that gives skin its tone, elasticity and is vital for penile erections.

Looking or more on herbal and natural health tips for men?  Read the June'19 issue of the Herbal Collective  - get a subscription to access every single issue.
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