Ah, CPAP machines. Is there no end to the benefits they can provide? For decades, the continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP machine has meant the difference between a good night’s sleep and a tortuous life of never feeling rested enough. The CPAP machine is the primary treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, a common sleep and respiratory disorder which causes individuals to momentarily stop breathing while they sleep. Aside from treating sleep apnea, studies have found that CPAP use can lower rates of cardiovascular diseases in some people and drastically reduce rates of hospital readmission. Now, a new study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, CPAP machines can even improve the sex lives of millions of people worldwide. Should CPAPs appear at more people’s bedsides?

The study has been published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers tracked various health and sleep data in 182 patients over twelve months. In those patients who used CPAP devices for four or more hours each night, sexual quality of life (QOL) was significantly better than in those patients who did not consistently use their CPAP devices. Interestingly, however, the results were much more prevalent among women:

Successful CPAP use may be associated with improved sexual QOL. Subgroup analysis revealed a large improvement in women but no improvement in men. Further study is warranted to test other measures of sexual QOL and other treatments.

Sleep apnea is believed to affect approximately 25% of men and 9% of women, although rates are much higher among postmenopausal women than premenopausal women. The reasons why women saw a much higher improvement in sex lives than men is unknown.

While it would be interesting if CPAP use could somehow directly increase libido, these results stem from the fact that obstructive sleep apnea can have a wide-ranging impact on one’s overall health, including sexual health. Sleep apnea can cause excessive fatigue and sexual dysfunction, so it makes sense that regular CPAP use would improve patients’ sex lives alongside their sleep lives.

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician from the mountains of Western North Carolina. Contact him at [email protected]

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