20 Nov Can obstructive sleep apnoea affect fertility?
Sleep apnoea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which people temporarily stop breathing while they are asleep. There are 3 main types of sleep apnoea.
1.Obstructive sleep apnoea(OSA), the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax causing partial or complete closure of the airway.
2.Central sleep apnoea, in which the brain does not send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
3.Complex sleep apnoea syndrome, which occurs when both obstructive sleep apnoea and central sleep apnoea are present.
In OSA, the breathing can stop for up to ten seconds at a time and this can occur repeatedly throughout the sleep. It was once thought that OSA affects only middle aged, overweight men. But now we know that it can affect both men and women and can occur in thin people as well.
OSA can impact fertility in the following ways.
In males, studies have shown that untreated sleep apnoea is associated with an increased incidence of erectile dysfunction though the underlying mechanism remains unclear. There is also a decline in the blood levels of testosterone resulting in a decrease in sexual desire and a reduction in the production and maturation of sperm.
In females, OSA is strongly associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which is a common cause of infertility. According to some studies, 7 out of 10 young women with PCOS will have OSA. Similar studies showed that OSA was present in 44% of obese women with PCOS, compared to 6% of age- and weight-matched normal women.
OSA is believed to contribute to the metabolic abnormalities in women with PCOS.
OSA may also result in a loss in libido in women.