Dr. David Gozal said new research indicates erectile dysfunction may be linked to the chronic intermittent hypoxia -- oxygen deprivation -- patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome experience during episodes of obstructed breathing.
The researchers found that after one week of being exposed to chronic intermittent hypoxia similar to that which a human with persistent sexual arousal syndrome would experience, mice showed a 55 percent decline in their daily spontaneous erections.
"Even relatively short periods of chronic intermittent hypoxia ... are associated with significant effects on sexual activity and erectile function," Gozal said in a statement.
The study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, found even after six weeks' recovery time with standard oxygen levels, mice exposed to chronic intermittent hypoxia for as little as one week only recovered 74 percent of their original erectile function.
"This could suggest either chronic residual deficits after chronic intermittent hypoxia or that full recovery would require longer periods," Gozal said.