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Sleep Apnea and Menopause

From the Menopause and Hormones Articles List

Woman with sleep apnea during menopauseWhat is sleep apnea? Do I need to treat it?

Menopause brings with it a lot of changes for you and your health, including sleeping issues and even some snoring. Besides snoring keeping your spouse awake and preventing both of you from resting well, it could signal that you have developed sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is more common in menopausal women than younger women, and the symptoms can be more severe, too. But what is it? Is it dangerous and does it need treated?


Sleep apnea refers to a condition where your breathing is interrupted during sleep. You may either breathe shallowly or stop breathing entirely, both of which can cause you to snore. Your snoring then prevents you from getting your rest because you move from deep sleep to lighter sleep. It also disrupts your partner’s sleep, so you both end up being exhausted and tired the next day.


There’s no blood test to diagnosis sleep apnea, and your doctor won’t be able to see the signs if you are awake. Instead, you’ll need to be referred to a doctor who can order a sleep study, either in your home or a laboratory, and then evaluate the results. During the study, monitors will be used to check things like your oxygen levels, heart rate, airflow, and breathing patterns.

You should also have a physical exam to see if you have an obstruction or other health concern. For an obstruction, you could be referred to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist for an evaluation. If there is an underlying heart concern, you may be referred to a cardiologist. A neurologist could help with an underlying neurological issue. It there are allergy and sinus problems, you'll need to see an allergist.


If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, you have some treatment options depending on the severity. For mild sleep apnea, some lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and quitting smoking, may be helpful. For more severe sleep apnea, you may need an appliance or device to help you breathe better at night. Oral appliances can help move your jaw forward so your throat stays open. They are not the most effective, but they can be easier to use. Your dentist can help create one that fits your mouth. Airway pressure devices can be used to help keep air flowing through your nose. A CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, system is the most common and reliable option. It may be uncomfortable and cumbersome at first, but with some patients and trial and error you can find the right face mask, strap position, and pressure level to let you sleep comfortably.

If all other options fail, you may need to consider surgery. Tissue can be removed, your jaw can be repositioned, or implants can be inserted. For complex cases, there are other options, including supplemental oxygen. In life-threatening cases, a new air passageway for night time breathing can be created.


Having sleep apnea puts your health at risk. Untreated, it could increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, heart failure, and more. The tiredness can increase your risks for having an accident, too. It can also affect your emotional health because when you are tired you can more easily become depressed and discouraged. The exhaustion can also affect your relationships with others and how well you can do everyday tasks.

If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, make an appointment with your doctor or specialist. The sooner you have a diagnosis, the sooner you can begin treatment.

This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

02-26-2016 - 05:33 PM


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