Sleep Apnea and Low Testosterone Levels

Sleep apnea is a very common sleep disorder that occurs mostly in men but can also happen in women. However, there are many more adverse effects that sleep apnea can bring about in men than in women. Heart disease is one of the more serious effects of sleep apnea in men, but there are other less serious cases that can be attributed to the disorder.

In many clinical studies, it has been found that male sleep apnea sufferers complained about decreased libido. In order to analyze how this occurs, the male sufferers were tested during their sleep and the results show significant decrease in the testosterone levels of male sleep apnea patients. This induced the tendencies of impotence, erectile dysfunction, and other sexually-related problems in men.

Some men may not easily be diagnosed with testosterone decrease because the abnormally low levels of testosterone may only appear during sleep, and may return to normal levels after awakening. This abnormal secretion of testosterone may only be found through the use of a polysomnograph and taking blood samples at different intervals within the duration of sleep.

Because low testosterone levels are associated with sleep apnea, doctors tried to use the hormone to reverse the effects of the sleep disorder. However, it has been found that doing such does not help in treating the sleep apnea. As a matter of fact, sleep apnea episodes became worse and had more detectable symptoms when testosterone was introduced into the body of male sleep apnea sufferers. What happened was that the episodes of breathlessness became more frequent and mild asphyxiation became more apparent. This increased the rate for heart risks because the harder and more strenuous the gasping for air may be, the more exhausted the heart may become. If a man with sleep apnea and heart disease was induced with testosterone, it is likely that he will experience heart failure.

But why does low testosterone occur in male sleep apnea sufferers and why does introducing the hormone into the body cause worsening of the sleep disorder? It is unclear as to how the hormone is actually associated with sleep apnea, but it has been found that the hormone can cause the further collapse of the throat muscles, thus increasing the blockage of the airway. How the hormone does this is also another mystery.

Nonetheless, once a sleep apnea patient undergoes therapy using PAP machines, a significant rise in the testosterone levels is observed. Apparently, sleep apnea causes low testosterone, and when the respiration returns to normal and sleep apnea is prevented, the hormone levels in males become normal as well. It is unclear how all of these occur and why, but the generalization that could be made as of now is that an individual with sleep apnea should use a treatment method, most preferably PAP machines, in order to normalize his hormone levels as well as his respiration during sleep, and considerably increase his quality of life.

Millions of sleep apnea sufferers may either not know that they have the disorder or neglect it, thinking that the problem is a simple sleeping problem that needs no particular attention. However, this is certainly not the case. While sleep apnea may be a common problem, there are still many out there who do not know a lot about the disease and assume that it is only a mild disorder. This is a very big misconception, and sleep apnea sufferers may suffer even more if they do not relay their condition to medical professionals. So if you suspect that you or someone close to you has sleep apnea, do not hesitate to see a health care provider in order to find a solution for it as soon as possible.