CPAP and Sex. Introduction.
When you first start using CPAP, APAP, or Bilevel Therapy to treat your sleep apnea, you may initially have concerns about how the mask and machine will effect sex with your spouse, significant other, or random strangers that wander into your bedroom (apparently we’re living in a teenage boy fantasy here!).
You may worry about how it makes you look superficially. In the sleep lab I very often hear patients complain that PAP therapy makes them look like Darth Vader, an elephant, a scuba diver, firefighter, and a robot. Basically people are commenting that their appearance isn’t to their liking! This initial hurdle is cleared quickly for most people. Talk about your concerns with your loved one, see how they feel, and quickly move on. Anyone who loves you, anyone with whom you wish to be intimate, will accept you and respect your medical needs. Most of this is what it comes down to. Educate yourself and your loved one about the benefits of CPAP in treating sleep apnea.
Fact: CPAP may be the first step toward rekindling your love life. Often loud snoring and sleep apnea may lead to someone sleeping in another room or feelings of dread in sharing a bed. You may notice looks of “you loud son of a…..”. If you are in separate bedrooms, the chance for intimacy diminishes. By resolving these issues by using CPAP, your partner may decide to rejoin you in bed, thus setting up new opportunities. Sexy time anyone?
If you are in a dating scenario, introduction of the CPAP to a sexual partner may recur if you have new partners. Though you may initially feel embarrassed and fight through these same feelings again, this will get easier as you become comfortable with CPAP and yourself. It’s really not a big deal to most people, so don’t treat it like a big deal. “What the heck is that thing?” Just answer by educating. “Oh, that is CPAP and it treats my sleep apnea.” You’ll find that many people know someone that uses one.
Here are some videos that are part education, part entertainment:
Whoa! What’s that down there???
After starting CPAP and using it effectively, you may begin to notice some changes in how it makes you feel. Some of the symptoms that prompted you to seek diagnosis and treatment of your sleep apnea may improve. Many people have improved energy levels, decreased blood pressure, and decreased excessive daytime sleepiness. These improvements may leave you feeling like yourself and interested in sex. Queue up some Kenny G and Barry White!!!
Treating your sleep disorder may have real physiological impacts on your libido. Sleep apnea has been associated with low testosterone levels in men and using CPAP may help reverse this. In addition, you may have decreased irritability and improved mood with treatment. This new attitude may lead to more interest on the part of your sexual partner as well.
Long-Term CPAP Use and Romance
There are some possible long term issues with CPAP and how it effects your sex life after the initial adjustment period is over.
Some people worry about the CPAP mask and machine becoming a barrier to intimacy. Putting on the mask may be interpreted as disinterest in sex. It may seem as if you are saying, “I’m sleeping now.” Certainly this can be true, but this is a conversation to have. Be flexible. Let your partner know that the mask can always be taken back off. Just like putting on a sleeping shirt and underwear doesn’t mean you’re not interested in sex. Through some combination of spontaneity and planning, there is no reason why you can’t have a normal sex life.
CPAP can actually improve intimacy with your loved one. Just like Peanut Butter and Chocolate…..CPAP and Sex!