CPAP Improved Sexual Quality of Life for Women Interview with:

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Sebastian M. Jara, MD
Resident Physician & Research Fellow
Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery
University of Washington Affiliated Hospitals What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Sleep apnea is a common disorder associated with numerous health consequences and reduced quality of life. There is growing evidence that sleep apnea also affects sexual quality of life and that treatment for sleep apnea, with CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), may improve sexual quality of life. The goal of this study was to evaluate the impact of long-term CPAP therapy on sexual quality of life in a group of men and women with sleep apnea.

Our study included 182 men and women with newly diagnosed obstructive sleep apnea, each of whom were prescribed a CPAP. Subjects completed a quality of life survey, which included questions on sexual quality of life, at their initial clinic visits and again one year later. Changes in sexual quality of scores over time were then compared between CPAP users and non-users.

Among the subjects, 72 used a CPAP nightly and 110 did not. When looking at all subjects, an overall improvement in sexual quality of life was observed in subjects that used their CPAP compared to subjects that did not, after accounting for several factors that can also affect sexual quality of life. When subgroup analysis was performed, a large improvement in sexual quality of life was noticed for women in the study. In contrast, men in the study experienced little-to-no improvement in sexual quality of life. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: These findings add to a large body of evidence that CPAP improves overall health and quality of life, in both men and women with sleep apnea. Because sleep apnea is more common men, there are fewer studies, especially those assessing sexual dysfunction, in women. However, there’s growing recognition that women, too, are affected and can benefit from CPAP use. Our findings demonstrate that improved sexual quality of life is one of the many health benefits that comes with CPAP treatment for women.While this study showed no improvements in sexual quality of life for men, CPAP has been shown to have numerous other health benefits in men and use should still be encouraged. Our hope is that the findings of this study will help motivate patients of both sexes who sleep poorly to seek evaluation for sleep apnea as treatment can have a wide-range of health benefits, including improved sexual quality of life. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: In future studies, it will be important to study more comprehensive measures of sexual quality of life in sleep apnea patients. This will include both a more extensive assessment of sexual quality of life in patients themselves and effects on their bed partners. Additionally, it will be important to test the effects of other sleep apnea treatments, such as surgery. Although CPAP is the first-line treatment for sleep apnea, it can be cumbersome to wear and might adversely affect intimacy and sexual quality of life compared to other treatments. Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Response: This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health. The authors of this study otherwise have no other funding, financial relationships, or conflicts of interest to disclose. 


Jara SM, Hopp ML, Weaver EM. Association of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Treatment With Sexual Quality of Life in Patients With Sleep ApneaFollow-up Study of a Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online May 24, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2018.0485

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Last Updated on May 30, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD