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Sleep apnea and oral sex, a full-throated investigation 

Navigating kinks with your doctor, your significant other and yourself

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Q I'm a middle-aged gay man and I was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea. This is a disorder caused by the soft tissue in the throat collapsing during sleep. On top of making me feel tired and awful all the time, sleep apnea is associated with a long list of health complications. I'm writing you because I'm into very rough oral. I like it when a guy treats my throat like a Fleshlight. Gagging and retching turn me on. Since I don't want to risk making my condition worse, I stopped giving blowjobs. But will giving blowjobs the way I like to give them actually make things worse? The internet was not helpful, and I didn't feel comfortable asking the sleep specialist.
—Really Excited To Choke Harmlessly

A "The vast majority of people with sleep apnea have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is what I assume this individual has," says Anna Grosz, a board certified otolaryngologist in practice in Portland, Oregon. "It results from muscle relaxation and collapse in the airway (throat), which narrows the passage for air to flow and then makes it harder to breathe and get oxygen."

click image On the Lovecast, get serious with comedian Cameron Esposito.
  • On the Lovecast, get serious with comedian Cameron Esposito.
So when you fall asleep, RETCH, the muscles in your throat relax and collapse, restricting your ability to breathe. Your brain—which doesn't want to die—responds to this oxygen deprivation by waking you up, which tenses your muscles back up, un-collapsing them and allowing you to breathe again.

"Someone with OSA gags or chokes in response to the apnea, not as a cause," Grosz clarifies. "And while the contraction of the muscles opens the airway, it leads to poor sleep because the person is constantly being woken up."

Now for the good news: "Theoretically," says Grosz, "increased tone of the muscles of the airway might be a good thing in terms of strengthening those muscles." Now, there's no evidence that having your throat used like a Fleshlight will strengthen your ol' throat muscles, but there's no evidence that getting face-fucked will weaken them, either.

"Ultimately, I don't think your reader is at risk of making his sleep apnea worse by continuing his oral-sex practices," says Grosz.


Q I have an orthopaedic cast fetish and my wife isn't interested at all. I don't want her to be injured in any way. I just like the idea of her wearing a cast on her leg. It's not even entirely sexual. If she would just wear a cast for a couple of hours while we hang out and watch a movie, I'd be happy. When we met eight years ago, I was in denial about the importance of my fetish, both to myself and to her. I've since realized that it's a deal breaker for me, and it's clear we wouldn't be together today if I had been aware of the extent of my fetish when we first met.

Over the years, we've briefly spoken about incorporating it, and we had a single failed attempt a few years ago. I've finally come to the realization that this isn't going to happen without it being forced or coerced. Obviously, a need of mine will be perpetually unmet. How do I keep myself from resenting her for not being more open-minded? Is our marriage doomed? We have a nine-month-old child.
—Churlish About Sudden Turn

A You just had a child, which means now is not the time to do anything stupid. Or rash. And ending your marriage because your wife failed to understand how important your fetish was to you before you understood how important your fetish was to you would be both stupid and rash. So take a deep breath, help care for your baby and have a conversation with your wife the next time she isn't completely exhausted, CAST, which could mean waiting three to six months.

If it's clear when you talk that she hates the thought of pulling on a fake cast and watching a movie with you—what you say you need to be happy—that will come out in the conversation. But if she's come to understand how important this cast business is to you and how little it actually requires of her, please do yourself, your wife and your baby a favour and take the "yes" you've wanted for a answer.

And finally, CAST, I don't know what your dick is telling you right now, but just in case it's telling you there are hordes of women out there with cast fetishes who are also into recently single new fathers with child-support payments to make, your dick is lying to you.


Q I'm a straight man who enjoys the erotic "mummification" experience. My wife finds the process of wrapping me in cling film and duct tape extremely tedious and she doesn't derive pleasure from it. So we decided to invest in a sleep sack, which will shorten the process considerably. I found a leather artisan on Etsy who makes them to order. During a video chat, the artisan made a reference to the "lucky man" who would be putting me in my sleep sack. I informed him I am straight. He apologized, saying that in his experience, it is mostly gay men who invest in this type of gear. I was nevertheless offended by his assumption. Your thoughts?
—Got Extremely Affronted Recently

A As a gay man, I'm sometimes annoyed when people assume I'm straight. But it's not an unreasonable assumption, since most people are straight. It's also rarely a malicious assumption. Similarly, GEAR, since all of the men who've commissioned this Etsy artisan to make them sleep sacks in the past have been gay, the assumption he made about you wasn't unreasonable. And it's hard to see malice in it.

The offence you've taken, on the other hand, strikes me as both unreasonable and malicious; it's unreasonable in that you would come crying to a queer person about something like this, and it's malicious in that your reaction is so obviously rooted in homophobia. So what if some dude thought you might be gay? Whereas a straight person who's assumed to be gay can correct the record without fear, a gay person who's assumed to be straight has to do a risk assessment first: Is this person going to freak out or get violent? So instead of being angry you should be grateful.

———


Have a question about sex, sexuality or relationships? Email it to Dan Savage, it could get answered in the column some week soon.

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