Introduction. Obstructive sleep apnea is defined as repetitive (≥5/hour) partial or complete cessation of breathing during sleep. Whereas obstructive sleep apnea is often considered to be associated with sexual problems in men, studies concerning effects of obstructive sleep apnea on female sexual function and distress are sparse.
Aim. To investigate sexual dysfunction and sexual distress in female patients with obstructive sleep apnea and to determine which factors are of importance for their sexual function.
Methods. We investigated 80 female patients (ages 28–64) admitted to a sleep laboratory and who after investigation received a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea. All subjects answered questions drawn from three self-administered questionnaires on sexuality. The results were compared with a population sample (N = 240).
Main Outcome Measure. Data from nocturnal respiratory recordings. Female Sexual Function Index, Female Sexual Distress Scale and four questions from Life Satisfaction-11 (Lisat-11).
Results. Female Sexual Function Index indicated that obstructive sleep apnea patients were at a higher risk for having sexual difficulties. Female Sexual Distress Scale showed significantly more sexual distress in the obstructive sleep apnea group. Manifest Female Sexual Dysfunction (combined data from Female Sexual Function Index and Female Sexual Distress Scale) showed that female patients with obstructive sleep apnea also had more sexual dysfunction. Severity of sleep apnea was, however, not related to any of these indices but consumption of psychopharmaca was. In Lisat-11, we found that obstructive sleep apnea females scored lower than women in the population sample regarding life as a whole but not regarding domains of closeness.
Conclusions. This study indicates that sexuality of women with untreated obstructive sleep apnea is negatively affected compared with a female population sample. This was not related to severity of obstructive sleep apnea, whereas psychopharmaca may act as an important confounder. Petersen M, Kristensen E, Berg S, Giraldi A, and Midgren B. Sexual function in female patients with obstructive sleep apnea. J Sex Med 2011;8:2560–2568.