Snoring is unpleasant and sleeping-disturbing for others, but can be quite harmless for the snorer himself. However, it can quickly become dangerous if breathing pauses are added to the loud snoring noises. Such short respiratory arrests cause a lot of stress in the body and can make the snorer sick in the long run. The heart, blood vessels and brain may suffer from the frequent lack of oxygen.
A study from Taiwan showed a link between obstructive sleep apnea syndrome and a risk of infertility in men. The data used from the Longitudinal Health Insurance database also showed that long-term sleep apnea further increases the risk. In obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, short respiratory arrests occur regularly during sleep because the airways are sagging and collapsing. Such breathing breaks are now considered a risk factor for various diseases such as high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity and diabetes if they occur more than five times an hour and last longer than ten seconds.
The study involved 4,607 patients with a diagnosis of infertility who had been treated at least three times outpatiently or once in hospital between 2000 and 2013. They were compared to 18,428 control patients without a diagnosis of infertility. The average age in both groups was 34 years.
The primary target result was obstructive sleep apnea as a risk factor, diagnosed by a sleep study (polysomnography). Secondary studies were investigated on the duration of sleep apnea (between one and more than five years) and the influence of therapy.
Obstructive sleep apnea proved to be an independent risk factor for infertility, a link that was stronger if the disease lasted longer or went untreated. This puts sleep apnea in the same category as other independent risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, the lung disease COPD, obesity, heart, kidney and liver diseases, and mental disorders. Patients with obstructive sleep apnea had a 1.24-fold higher risk of infertility compared to those in the control group. This risk was relatively highest in the age of 40.
If you suspect that you may be suffering from sleep apnea because you are often tired and exhausted during the day, prone to second sleep, have memory problems or have elevated blood pressure, talk to your GP about a sleep check-up.