How Does CPAP for Sleep Apnea Positively Affect Your Sex Life?

Increased Energy, Improved Sexual Function May Help Your Sexuality

Happy couple playing in bed
CPAP may have positive or negative effects on your sex life, depending on how you respond to it. LWA/Dann Tardif/Getty Images

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and have started to use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), you may have some concerns and questions, including, how does CPAP affect your sex life? Learn how treating sleep apnea may improve energy levels, libido, and sexual function including resolution of erectile dysfunction. Discover ways in which an unattractive mask might make you feeling unattractive and what to do about it.

The Initial Introduction of CPAP to the Bedroom

When you first start using CPAP to treat your sleep apnea, you may initially panic about how the mask and machine will impact your sex life. On a superficial basis, you may worry about how it makes you look. You may feel like the apparatus makes you appear like a cross between Darth Vader, an elephant, and a robot. In short, you may feel unattractive. Truth be told, this initial hurdle is cleared quickly.

Remember that you should be putting the mask on as you fall asleep. Put it on after you have had sex and the lights are being turned off! Talk about your concerns with your loved one, see how they feel, and quickly move on. Anyone who loves you, anyone with whom you wish to be intimate, will accept you and respect your medical needs.

In fact, the CPAP may be the first step toward rekindling your love life. Often loud snoring and sleep apnea may lead to nighttime relationship problems, including sleeping in separate sleep spaces.

If you are in separate bedrooms, the chance for intimacy diminishes. By resolving these issues by using CPAP, your partner may decide to rejoin you in bed, thus setting up new opportunities.

The introduction of the CPAP to a sexual partner may recur if you have new partners. Though you may initially feel embarrassed and fight through these same feelings again, this will get easier as you become comfortable with CPAP and yourself.

Try to preserve time for cuddling and body contact. You may find it is easier to snuggle if you are the "little spoon" with your CPAP mask and tubing facing away from you and your partner. It is also helpful to try to choose a smaller mask with minimal leak problems as these can be disruptive.

Starting to Feel More Frisky

As you start to use your CPAP on a regular basis, you may begin to notice some changes in how it makes you feel. Some of the symptoms that prompted you to seek diagnosis and treatment of your sleep apnea may improve. For example, most people have improved energy levels and decreased excessive daytime sleepiness. These improvements may leave you feeling more frisky and more interested in sex.

Treating your sleep disorder may have real physiological impacts on your libido. Sleep apnea has been associated with low testosterone levels in men and using CPAP may help reverse this. Men with sleep apnea frequently experience erectile dysfunction and treatment may help. In addition, you may have decreased irritability and improved mood with treatment.

This new attitude may lead to more interest on the part of your sexual partner as well.

Long-Term CPAP Use and Maintaining Romance

Once you have overcome the initial adjustment and start to see some benefits from using the CPAP, you may still face some long-term issues related to CPAP and its impact on your sex life.

Some people worry about the CPAP mask and machine becoming a barrier to intimacy. By putting on the mask, you may feel like you are signaling disinterest in sex. It may seem as if you are saying, "I’m sleeping now." Certainly this can be true, but it doesn’t have to be an absolute. Be flexible. Let your partner know that the mask can always be taken back off. Through some combination of spontaneity and planning, there is no reason why you can’t have a normal sex life.

In many ways, CPAP can actually improve intimacy with your loved one. That leads to two reasons to keep using and being compliant with CPAP: for health and for love.

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