A big fear shared by many people with sleep apnea is, "Will wearing my CPAP mask make me less attractive to my partner?" While this is a valid concern, think about what untreated sleep apnea does to your body, and to your bed partner's sleep.
Sleep Apnea and Your Sex Life
If you have apnea, chances are your sex life will be improved — not inhibited — by wearing your mask. Why is this the case?
- Snoring isn't sexy. Just ask your lover. Though some people can adjust to a snoring bed partner, most struggle to get a good night's rest next to someone who's sawing away. Your snoring could be preventing your partner from falling asleep, or it may wake them almost as many times per night as it wakes you. A bed partner who's chronically exhausted may not be in the mood. Wearing your mask can put a stop to your snoring and help your significant other sleep better — which means more energy, less resentment, and a more receptive mood when it comes to intimacy.
- Apnea isn't sexy either. One of the symptoms and side effects of untreated sleep apnea is a decrease in sexual desire. If you don't wear your CPAP mask regularly, you may find your own interest in sex waning. In addition, untreated apnea and sleeplessness can lead to health issues like headaches, attention and memory problems, difficulty concentrating or performing at work or in school, and depression. Any of these problems can take a toll on a relationship, sex included. Isn't wearing an apnea mask sexier than the alternative?
- Dying isn't sexy. Left untreated, sleep apnea can contribute to chronic and serious health problems, some of which may lead to death. Apnea has been linked to high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, arrhytmias, heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, brain damage, and even motor vehicle accidents (due to falling asleep at the wheel or having poor reaction times). Above all, a loving partner wants you alive and healthy — the best version of yourself. Eight hours of sleeping beside a CPAP mask is a small price to pay for a long and happy life with a healthy partner.
Loved ones will understand how important the mask is to your health. In fact, most of the time, partners and spouses are relieved when apnea is diagnosed and treated. Wearing a mask for a few hours at a time is a simple solution to a vexing problem. (You can take the mask on and off; you still get health benefits as long as you wear it for most of the night.)
Remember, CPAP masks only cover your face until they're taken off. But a sleep disorder is chronic and daily, and it can change your body and your relationship in any number of ways. Putting your mask on is a minor deterrent to kissing and necking. Snoring heavily, gasping in the night, and being tired, grumpy, or seriously ill are all far bigger challenges to your sex life than a piece of plastic.