Women and Sleep Apnea: CPAP Masks for Women

Summary: Until recently, Obstructive Sleep Apnea was considered a male dominated disease.  In general, older males are twice as likely as females to develop Sleep Apnea.  Typical male attributes associated with aging such as excess weight, neck circumference, high blood pressure, and diabetes which contribute to high incidents of Sleep Apnea are now becoming common among women.

Article:

In fact, approximately 7 million women have been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea and women after menopause are three times more likely to suffer from it.  Women who snore are about twice as likely to have high blood pressure and have been linked to a higher risk of depression. Women who snore regularly are 33 percent more likely to suffer from stroke and heart disease than women who don’t snore.  Moreover, Obstructive Sleep Apnea is more likely to go undiagnosed in women than in men.

Obviously, if there have been any obvious signs or symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, testing is of critical importance.  Because snoring also affects partners, it is important to discuss the subject with a significant other in order to help identify possible symptoms.  The benefits of treating Sleep Apnea are dramatic and contribute to higher quality of life.

Women and CPAP Masks

 

With the occurrence of Sleep Apnea among women rising, more information and equipment is now available on the subject.  Manufacturers have begun to take notice of the rise and have been designing masks specific to women.  Since the CPAP mask is the single most personal aspect of CPAP equipment, it makes sense that a CPAP mask be designed specifically for a woman’s features and likes.

Resmed, a leading CPAP equipment manufacturer, has taken a big step forward in the women Sleep Apnea market by offering a few new CPAP mask choices; The Swift™ FX for Her and the Swift™ LT for Her.  Each of these products offers a contemporary design with a woman in mind.  Fisher and Paykel HealthCare have also offered two CPAP nasal masks geared toward woman; FlexiFit™ 406 Petite and Zest™ Nasal CPAP Masks.

The Swift™ LT for Her was the initial CPAP mask designed specifically for woman.  Resmed took the highly successful Swift LT and tweaked it with personalized features for women’s unique preferences.  Some of the more important features for women include nasal pillow sizes including extra small, small and medium, adjustable backstrap that can be worn over or under the hair to accommodate a wide range of hairstyles and headgear stability arms with soft wraps that are expandable to accommodate various facial widths, including narrow or wider faces, to minimize facial contact or pressure marks.  The look was also softened with a more feminine print and light blue headgear design.

The Swift™ FX for Her has drawn on the strengths of the Swift LT for Her.  The Swift FX for Her is lighter, softer and even more streamlined.  Resmed has mounted a 360° rotating elbow for flexibility in tube positions and additional buckle notches that allow for customized sizing for women’s fitting needs.  Some design features specific to women’s needs include a low-profile backstrap with Velcro fasteners available in small sizes and in feminine pink or light blue and gray.  Soft wraps enhance comfort at the cheeks and are also available in gray and pink to coordinate with backstrap.  Finally, to better fit female users, pillow sizes come packaged with extra small, small and medium.

Fisher and Paykel have also entered into the growing female market with FlexiFit™ 406 and Zest™ CPAP nasal mask.  Both CPAP nasal masks offer solutions specifically designed to fit finer featured faces. The Petite design is small, light and easy to use. The Stretchgear™ Headgear provides even greater comfort and the maintenance-free bias diffuser ensures a quieter operation.  The Zest™ offers a compact, quiet, and effortless to fit and use solution.  The innovative design of the Zest™ Nasal Mask combines easy-clip silicone seal, Flexifoam™ Cusion technology and advanced air diffuser for ease of use, comfort and quietness.  The Zest™, which comes in petite, is a good solution for the small facial features of female CPAP users.

The Final Word

It is apparent that woman’s health issues are becoming prominent enough for major manufacturer’s to focus on products geared specifically for female users.  CPAP supplies and equipment are no different.  As shown, both Resmed and Fisher and Paykel have taken steps to help alleviate the problems associated with CPAP masks for women.  More comfort, smaller sizes and feminine colors are all aspects both Resmed and Fisher and Paykel have thought about when designing female specific CPAP masks.  As more are diagnosed and the market continues to expand, the number of CPAP masks for women will also increase and become more than a niche product.

12 comments
margolex
margolex

I have a small and narrow face, with very narrow nose bridge; I'm a nose and mouth breather, currently using a full-face mask that continues to slip and leak no matter how many times my therapist adjusts it.  I also use a chinstrap.  Is there a mask or a work-around for someone with such a narrow nose bridge that none of the current masks will properly seal??  This is driving me nuts.  Note: like "Marfan female" below, I have a connective tissue disease (Ehler-Danlos Syndrome) that causes my apnea.  I have a typical EDS body: short, petite, narrow features, high and narrow nose bridge.  Help!

Cpap user
Cpap user

I am a female and have been using a c-pap mask for many years, I have struggled with a mask that is too big for my face and I have made it work.  It has been putting pressure on my teeth when I wear it but I didn't think too much of it until recently when I realized my teeth had actually shifted and now my bite is off causing me problems with my jaw and teeth.  I now need braces...yikes....I need to find a mask that puts no pressure on my teeth at all....All of the masks that I have seen so far rest under the nose...any suggestions for me?


Casscayde
Casscayde

Hi, I have very severe sleep apnea for a woman. I am having major issues with masks as I am a mouth and nose breather, I have had 4 different masks and 2 different machines to try and get a system I'm comfortable with but nothing is working for me. I'm currently using an aflex machine with a Mirage Liberty mask but because I have an extremely small nose the smallest nose pillows are actually making my nostrils spilt after a few nights use so then I don't wear it. Are there any interchangeable nose pillows for that mask that are a lot smaller, or are they making a ladies version?

Susan Matheson
Susan Matheson

The Swift FX nasal pillows angle is wrong for me therefore leaks occur. Does the Swift LT use the same pillows?

Looking for the right one
Looking for the right one

I have a zest mask, but I also have a high bridge of the nose, and the zest leaves a red mark every night. I tried a little silicon/rubber thing that was supposed to pad the nose, it created a huge leak that I could not get rid of. If the mask was the same width, but about 1/2" taller, it would be perfect. Is there a mask that would work for me?

Marfan female
Marfan female

Now that the definition of Marfan Syndrome has finally been updated to include sleep apnea as one of the many complications (though it's amazing how few doctors get that), how about some manufacturer making products for the Marfan community? There are a LOT of us. As a woman with Marfan, I have a hell of a time trying to use CPAP. Not only in my face much, much smaller than an obese man, but my long, narrow face and high bridged nose means that even things designed for women do not fit me (CPAP masks, eyeglasses, swim goggles). Please work with the National Marfan Foundation to help us narrow-faced, mouth-breathing marfanoid sleep apnea sufferers. I have given up on CPAP, the pillar procedure was a total failure, and now I just live with sleep apnea. It's not good.

Melica Paulette Buche
Melica Paulette Buche

I cannot believe that this has never been considered before. Please don't insult our intelligence with this "feminine colors" crap. It's not about needing something to accomodate our hairdo. It's about needing to breathe and sleep in a mask that fits our face. Women's heads are smaller than men's. Wow. They just now figured that out? Well I guess I should be grateful that someone even considered women. I will be ordering the mask. There is only one full face mask for women available. I will try it. What choice do I have other than struggling with something designed for a head twice as big as my own. Pink is nice but frankly it could be crusty brown and I would buy it if it fit my face.

admin
admin

Hi Susan, The Swift LT does have the same pillows as the Swift FX. If you would like to try something new, the Fisher & Paykel Pilairo has been getting good reviews. The Pilairo uses a self inflating pillow to get a very good seal. You can view the Pilairo at the link below. If you have additional questions, you can contact us directly at www.thecpapshop.com. http://www.thecpapshop.com/fisher-paykel-pilairo-tm-nasal-pillow-mask

admin
admin

Hello Theresa, Have you ever tried nasal pillow masks such as the Swift FX by ResMed or GoLife by Respironics? This would eliminate the need for a mask to fit the length of the nose. If a nasal pillow mask is not an option, one mask with a longer profile would be the old style profile lite by respironics. It is a longer shaped "triangle" which might work. There are some drawbacks such as the forehead piece and weight. If you would like to discuss further, please do not hesitate to contact us. All our information can be found on our website at www.thecpapshop.com Thank you

admin
admin

Hello, Thank you for your comments. It might be worthwhile to try some of the nasal pillow masks including the ResMed Swift FX for her or the ResMed Bella as facial structure is less of a measuring gauge with nasal pillow systems. Thank you, The CPAP Shop Team

Tez73
Tez73

@Melica Paulette Buche   I am glad that they are not only providing us with something that helps us to breathe but also something that is as attractive as possible.  I'm not thrilled about wearing this contraption but seeing as I have to then I'd certainly rather it was pretty in pink than the "crusty brown" that you refer to.

admin
admin

Dear Melica, Thank you for your comments. Unfortunately, you are correct in that most full face CPAP masks have previously been geared toward men. This is due, in part, because men were most prone to sleep apnea. However, in recent years, this dynamic has changed and has precipitated a move to create more women oriented CPAP equipment. Obviously, the color pink was chosen just to differentiate a woman's CPAP mask from a men's. Hopefully, you approve of the mask and it fits comfortably. If not, we are happy to replace it and work with you on finding the perfect fitting CPAP mask. Please do not hesitate to contact us. The CPAP Shop Team