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Poor Sleep Tied to Incontinence, Impotence

SATURDAY, May 14 (HealthDay News) -- Sleep problems are associated with erectile dysfunction and urologic conditions such as incontinence, according to the results of two new studies.

The first study examined the relationship between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and erectile dysfunction. OSA is a disorder that occurs during sleep, in which a person's upper airway temporarily collapses, causing them to stop breathing. The study included 870 men with an average age of 47.3 years and an average body mass index of 30.2, which is considered obese.

Health screening found that 63 percent of the men had OSA, 5.6 percent had a history of diabetes, and 29 percent had a history of smoking.

After they adjusted for age and other health conditions, the researchers found that men with erectile dysfunction were more than twice as likely to have OSA than those without erectile dysfunction. And the more severe the erectile dysfunction, the greater the likelihood of having OSA, the investigators noted. The finding suggests that men with erectile dysfunction should be screened for OSA, said the researchers at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

The second study found that sleep problems precede certain urologic conditions, such as urinary incontinence, lower urinary tract symptoms, and the need to get up during the night to urinate (nocturia).

Researchers at New England Research Institutes, Inc. in Watertown, Mass., followed-up with 1,610 men and 2,535 women for five years, assessing sleep disturbances and the development of urologic symptoms.

The investigators found that short sleep duration among men and restless sleep among men and women was strongly associated with the incidence of lower urinary tract symptoms (8 percent among men and 13 percent among women). Incidences of urinary incontinence and nocturia were associated with restless sleep among women but not men, according to the researchers.

Both studies were scheduled to be presented to the media Saturday during a special press conference at the American Urological Association's annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

"We know that proper amounts of sleep and quality of sleep can impact a wide range of health conditions, including erectile function and lower urinary tract symptoms," AUA spokesman Dr. Kevin T. McVary said in an association news release. "These data may help us better assess how helping patients modify their sleep patterns may help improve their health and overall quality of life."

Because these studies were presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about sleep and sleep disorders.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Urological Association, news release, May 14, 2011

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