Researchers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center have found that non-diabetic men under age 60 who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are experiencing improved sexual function and satisfaction from use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy.

For the study, the researchers assessed the erectile function and libido of 92 men who were newly diagnosed with OSA and starting CPAP therapy. According to the researchers, erectile dysfunction (ED) is common in OSA patients, and nearly half of the men in the Walter Reed study reported the presence of ED. Patients were assessed again after 1, 3, and 6 months of CPAP therapy.

The results showed that CPAP improved the sexual function and satisfaction in the majority of men in the study regardless of their level of erectile function reported at the start of the study. According to the researchers, while those with ED reported more improvements, many participants without ED also reported improved sexual function and satisfaction.

“We were surprised at how prevalent ED is in a relatively young population of men with sleep apnea. The average age was 45,” said Joseph Dombrowsky, MD, the study’s primary investigator. “But we were similarly surprised at how robust a clinically significant response the men had with CPAP therapy.”

The findings were presented last week at the SLEEP 2012 meeting in Boston.