Sleep Apnea and Men’s Health
Men’s Health Specialist in Commack and East Setauket, NY
Dr. David L. Peters is a board-certified urologist that takes the time to treat the patient as a whole. While he specializes in men’s health and issues such as sexual dysfunction, Dr. Peters aims to find the root cause of your symptoms which, in the case of sexual dysfunction, could be sleep apnea. Call (631) 444-3641 to schedule an appointment in Commack, NY today
What is Sleep Apnea?
If your breathing repeatedly stops and starts, you may have Sleep Apnea. The more common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which occurs when the throat muscles relax. A patient’s airway ( throat) narrows, or closes off, during obstructed breathing which causes the oxygen levels in your blood to become low. The brain senses low oxygen, and briefly wakes you to “gasp” for air.
How does Obstructive Sleep Apnea relate to Sexual dysfunction?
The purpose of breathing is to deliver oxygen from your lungs to your blood; your blood vessels transport the oxygenated blood to your organs (brain, heart, kidneys, etc) and tissues (muscle). When you have low oxygen in your blood and tissues, hormones such as testosterone may be lowered. Low testosterone can depress your sex drive (libido), and can cause erectile dysfunction. In addition, low oxygen can decrease levels of nitric oxide, the chemical that is critical to inducing an erection.
How does Sleep Apnea contribute to Urinary Problems?
A common urinary complaint is waking often at night to urinate, otherwise known as Nocturia. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is one of many causes of Nocturia. This is a more complicated pathway then one would think, as most people assume that nocturia from sleep apnea is caused by a person simply waking from their interrupted sleep, and then deciding to get up and urinate. But it is actually more interesting than that. During OSA, the patient may gasp for air. Gasping for air against an obstructed airway increases the pressure in the chest, which is where your heart is. When the heart senses an increase in pressure, it tries to reduce that pressure, which it assumes is from too much fluid (blood) in the heart chambers. In addition, the blood in the heart is already abnormally low on oxygen from the sleep apnea. Both of these conditions cause the heart muscle to release a special hormone (Atrial Natriuretic Peptide) which communicates with the kidneys and essentially instructs the kidneys to make more urine. Where does this urine come from? From the water in your blood! By making more urine, the kidneys are essentially reducing the volume of blood in your body, including the heart.
How do patients benefit from treating their Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Dr. Peters works closely with Sleep Medicine Specialists to diagnose and treat obstructive sleep apnea. He’ll ask about your sleep habits, and perform a screening analysis to see if you are at risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Many patients who already receive Testosterone Replacement Therapy are sometimes able to stop these testosterone treatments after being treated for OSA, as their testosterone levels in their blood often rise naturally after their sleep apnea is properly treated! In addition, many patients’ erections improve after starting treatment for sleep apnea – they are often able to reduce or even stop their oral therapies for ED. Many patients with nocturia may no longer need medication to manage their waking at night to urinate once the sleep apnea is properly identified and treated! Of note, there are many other critical health benefits to properly identifying and treating obstructive sleep apnea.