Male impotence, also known as erectile dysfunction, is a common problem with some men. Men of all ages can suffer from this condition resulting in a lack of ability to function sexually. Many search for answers among common treatments such as taking pills but few ever think to connect their sleep apnea to the issue or ask themselves if sleep apnea can cause impotence.

Research Results

Research has shown that sleep apnea is indeed connected to male impotence. In fact, up to 80% of men that suffer from sleep apnea also have difficulty reaching and keeping a natural erection therefore resulting in impotence. This is especially true if the man is obese.

Sleep Apnea

When a person has sleep apnea they stop breathing for a few seconds to a few minutes. Signs also include gasping for air, snorting and snoring during sleep. There also may be overwhelming tiredness during the day, irritability and trouble concentrating. The most common cause of sleep apnea is the closing of soft tissue at the back of the throat.

This is called obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. Since the sleep is disrupted with all the sudden stopping and starting of breathing the man is not getting enough oxygen. This severely messes up their REM sleep. REM sleep is the deep sleep we go into where the body’s chemical processes take place.

Why it Causes Impotence

With men this process includes the production of male testosterone. Testosterone is produced throughout the night especially during early morning hours when it is at the highest level. But after a night of reduced oxygen from sleep apnea not enough is produced.

Lack of this hormone not only causes lack of erections during waking intimate moments, but also the erections a man gets naturally while sleeping. Scientists believe there is a connection between the absence of these naturally occurring erections while sleeping and erectile dysfunction. Studies also suggest that the worse the sleep apnea is the worse the ED will be.


The first step to treatment is to discuss your impotence issue with your doctor. Only
10% of men ever get treatment because it is seems too personal. In reality, it is a common medical issue and should be treated as such in an attempt to improve your health.

Your doctor has probably had other patients with this problem so there is no need to feel embarrassed, as it is a common condition. When discussing your concerns regarding impotence with your doctor, it is also important to let your doctor know about your problems sleeping. Alternatively, The Houston Dentists would be happy to discuss your sleep issues and refer you to a sleep treatment center.

At a sleep study you will be monitored during sleep to see how bad your sleep apnea is and how often you stop breathing. Once the study is completed they make suggestions as to treatment of the sleep apnea.

CPAP Machines

Generally for severe OSA this involves a CPAP machine. This is simply a mask worn over the mouth or sometimes the nose. The mask is attached to lightweight tubes hooked into the small machine. While the mask keeps your nasal passages and breathing structures opened the machine sends air through to keep you supplied with proper oxygen.

Mild Apnea

Men that have milder forms of OSA can get treatment through a fitted mouthpiece that keeps their tongue from falling back against their airway as they sleep. The Houston Dentists can provide this sleep aide. Once treatments have returned the ability to reach REM sleep men have a better chance of producing normal amounts of testosterone which in turn may end their male impotence.