Poor Sleep Hits Below the Belt

Erectile dysfunction and urologic problems tied to sleep apnea, poor sleep

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Do you go to the bathroom more than you should have to? Are you having sexual health issues? These problems could be tied to poor sleep. According to two recent studies, sleep habits indicated your health status.

In one study, researchers found that men with erectile dysfunction, or trouble getting sexually aroused, were more likely to have sleep apnea - a condition that makes it hard to sleep at night because of breathing problems. Another study showed that people who don't get much sleep are more likely to have bladder control problems.

"Get 6-8 hours of sleep; its important for your health."

According to Kevin T. McVary, M.D., spokesperson for the American Urological Association, the amount that people sleep and how well they sleep has an effect on many aspects of their health, including bladder problems and a man's ability to become erect.

Using the information from these studies, doctors may be able to better help patients change their sleep habits, which in turn may improve patients' health and quality of life, says McVary.

Participants with erectile dysfunction were more than twice as likely as those without erectile dysfunction to have obstructive sleep apnea. As the severity of erectile dysfunction increased, a man's chance of having obstructive sleep apnea also increased. This suggests that men with erectile dysfunction should be screened for obstructive sleep apnea.

In the second study, researchers looked at the relationship between quality of sleep and urologic problems, including urinary incontinence (urine leakage), lower urinary tract symptoms (bladder control problems), and nocturia (having to go pee more than two times a night).

The Study

  • In the first study, researchers looked at the relationship between obstructive sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction
  • 870 men from the Law Enforcement Cardiac Screening program were included in the study
  • Participants who had a positive score on the Berlin Questionnaire (a survey used for obstructive sleep apnea) were defined as having a high risk for obstructive sleep apnea
  • Erectile dysfunction was defined as having a score of less than 22 on the International Index of Erectile Function -5
  • 63 of the patients had obstructive sleep apnea
  • Researchers followed 1,610 men and 2,535 women for five years
  • For men only, short amounts of sleep were defined as sleeping less than five hours per night
  • Poor sleep quality was defined as having restless sleep in the past week
  • Lower urinary tract symptoms were assessed using the American Urological Association Symptom Index
  • Urinary incontinence was defined as having urine leakage at least once a week
  • Nocturia was defined as have to urinate more than two times per night after falling asleep
  • 8 percent of the men and 13 percent of the women had lower urinary tract symptoms
  • Risk of lower urinary tract symptoms was strongly associated with short amounts of sleep in men and restless sleep among both men and women
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 17, 2011
Last Updated:
September 16, 2011