J Sleep Med.  2019 Dec;16(2):75-80. 10.13078/jsm.190047.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Women

  • 1Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA. christine.won@yale.edu


Obstructive sleep apnea is known to be more prevalent in men. In women the prevalence varies throughout her life span as she goes through different stages; puberty, reproductive years, pregnancy and postmenopausal state. The disparity of prevalence within the lifespan of women and in comparison, to men is not only due to different pathophysiologic factors like upper airway anatomy, chemoreflexes, sex hormones but also due to under recognition of sleep disordered breathing in women due to atypical presentation and difference in polysomnographic phenotypes. This review summarizes the literature regarding sleep-disordered breathing in women, its pathophysiology, sex differences in phenotypes and implications of sex differences on management.


Obstructive sleep apnea; Sex differences; Sex characteristics; Sleep apnea syndromes; Sleep-disordered breathing
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