Male patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) -- the inability to breathe properly during sleep -- produce lower levels of testosterone, resulting in decreased libido and sexual activity, according to researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Previous studies had indicated that male sleep apnea patients had reported decreased libidos but the studies were unable to establish a scientific link. The current study, reported in the July issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found that nearly half the subjects who suffered from severe sleep apnea also secreted abnormally low levels of testosterone throughout the night.
"For years we have seen sleep-disorder patients complain of decreased libido but we had no explanation for this phenomenon until now," said Professor Peretz Lavie, head of the Technion Sleep Laboratory and study leader.
Sleep apnea is a respiratory disorder that affects 4%-9% of adult males. Its most common manifestation is loud snoring and it may occur several hundred times throughout the night, resulting in sleep fragmentation and excessive daytime sleepiness. For many years sleep apnea sufferers have complained of decreased libidos, yet previous studies reported that patients’ testosterone levels, although low, were within the normal adult male range.
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