Starting CPAP therapy, what about my sex life?
Getting used to CPAP and to sex again
When talking to our patients on CPAP, one of the most frequent concerns is the negative impact it might have on their sex life. This is of course understandable, but it is important to remember that one of the major symptoms of untreated OSA (Obstructive sleep apnea) is loss of energy, reduced libido and sexual function. So the benefits outweigh any possible negative association with wearing a mask to bed.
Getting set up on CPAP, it’s perfectly normal to have major concerns about how the mask, tube and machine will impact your sex life. Patients report being concerns about how it makes them look and consequently, feel next to their partner. Once you experience the benefits though, this initial concern can pass quite quickly.
It’s important to share your concerns with your loved one and if you can, try to make light of it so it doesn’t become the elephant in the room. And don’t forget you should only put your mask on when you are going to sleep, not necessarily the moment you get into bed. You can still be spontaneous too, ResMed’s CPAP equipment is designed to be simple to wear and remove.
You may well find that the introduction of CPAP may do more for your sex life than you had imagined. Remember that loud snoring can often lead to relationship problems, add to that the loss of energy, libido and sexual function and you can quickly see how treating it can have many knock on positive benefit.
And remember to remain open to intimacy and cuddles too as it is important to rekindle these little pleasures too.
Feeling the benefits of your CPAP therapy
As we mentioned, treating your sleep apnea should have a really positive impact on libido. For men, sleep apnea has been associated with low testosterone levels and erectile dysfunction. Using your CPAP regularly can help limit these side effect and with improved sleep you should also feel fresher and less irritable by day which in itself can have a really positive effect on those closest to you.
Keeping your CPAP therapy and your sex life going
All of this said though, there is still a major adjustment to get used to and it’s important that you are able to recognise the benefits as they come. People on CPAP therapy can still feel unattractive and their partners can see it as a barrier. Maintain the conversation about it and remember the mask can be removed in a flash, so there’s no reason why a normal sex life can be resumed with CPAP therapy.
It may even improve it, which is a great reason to ensure you stick with your CPAP therapy and get all the physical benefits.