You may put up with dirty socks on the floor and even ignore the raised toilet seat, but there is one issue you shouldn't let slip: lowered libido. It could be a telltale sign your husband has a serious illness — and is at risk for others.

By Lynya Floyd

Sleep apnea, which causes severe snoring and stoppage of breathing for at least 10 seconds, may not only lower his sex drive but also increase his risk of high blood pressure and stroke. "When you don't breathe, oxygen levels in your blood drop and stress hormones rise," explains David Volpi, M.D., founder of the Eos Sleep centers in New York, Pennsylvania and California.

Too many extra pounds make your guy vulnerable to diabetes and heart disease in addition to decreasing his desire. But you might hesitate to mention his pants size if yours has gone up too.

"Erectile dysfunction is actually the first sign of cardiovascular disease," explains Lawrence Hakim, M.D., chair of the urology department at The Cleveland Clinic Florida. "It can predate a heart attack by up to five years." Need help getting the sizzle back? Convince your man to make an appointment with his doctor by:

  • Saving him immediate embarrassment. "Never bring it up in bed," says Dr. Hakim. Talk it over when you’re on a walk, in the car or anywhere else — and keep it between just the two of you.
  • Making the health connection. This isn't just about sex — be clear that you're worried and want to rule out related wellness concerns like cancer and hypertension.
  • Being a team player. If he needs to slim down, for example, suggest ways you can work out together and commit to healthy eating habits you'll both stick with.

Originally published in the 2013 March issue of Family Circle magazine.

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