Can CPAP help improve intimacy with my partner if I have sleep apnea?

Research shows that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) -- the most commonly prescribed treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) -- works best when couples work together in support of the treatment, and that, rather than drive partners away from sex and intimacy, CPAP can actually lead to improved intimacy between partners:
  • One study indicated that men whose wives continue to sleep in the same bed with them when using the CPAP are 60% more likely to continue with the treatment than if they are sleeping alone.
  • Another study examined sexual and intimate relationships in men with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and found that whereas OSA had a negative impact on men's sex lives, regular use of CPAP for three months resulted in improvement in their sexual and intimate relationships. And the more serious the OSA to begin with, the greater the improvement was after using the CPAP.
It's very common for the snoring that can accompany obstructive sleep apnea to drive partners to sleep in separate beds. So often, when the CPAP treatment begins, couples are already sleeping apart. The initial reluctance to return to the same bed is understandable -- both partners may feel self-conscious. There's no question that it takes work: trust, open communication, perhaps a decision to plan for sex and intimacy in different ways. But this is work that is worth doing -- not only for the health of the person with OSA, but also for the health of your relationship.

The bottom line? CPAP treatment not only can help alleviate OSA, and improve a patient's health, it can also bring couples back into the same bed -- if both patient and partner are willing to accept the device, and not let short-term, initial discomfort or awkwardness become entrenched. The discomfort is fleeting, but the benefits -- including renewed intimacy in the bedroom -- are long-term.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.