Articles | ED Disorders | Medical diagnosing of erectile dysfunction

Seeing a doctor, answering questions and having tests done can help diagnose erectile dysfunction

Seeing the doctor

Erectile dysfunction, or impotence, occurs when a man can not get or keep an erection. Having trouble from time to time isn't a big concern. But if an ED problem is ongoing, it may cause other problems.

When to see a doctor

The family doctor is the place to begin when a man has ED problems. See the doctor if:
An ED disorder is a concern
There is diabetes, heart disease or other health problems
Other symptoms that may not seem related are present
There are relationship problems

Because appointments are brief, it's important to be prepared.

What to do

Take steps to prepare for the appointment:
Write down symptoms, including any that may seem unrelated to erectile dysfunction.
Write down personal information, including any stresses or recent life changes.
Make a list of all medications, vitamins, herbal remedies and supplements.
Write down questions to ask.

Prepare a list of questions to include:
What is likely causing the ED problems?
What are other possible causes?
What kinds of tests are needed?
Is the ED most likely temporary or chronic?
What's the best treatment?
Should a specialist be consulted?

What to expect from the doctor

The doctor will have questions such as:
Are there any other health problems or chronic conditions?
Have there been any changes in sexual desire?
Are there erections during masturbation, with a partner or while asleep?
If the patient anxious, depressed or under stress?
Has there ever been a diagnosis of a mental health condition? If so, is the patient currently take any medications or getting psychological counseling?
When was the problem first noticed ?
Does the erectile problem occur only sometimes, often or all of the time?
What medications does the patient take
Alcohol? If so, how much?
Illegal drugs? If so, what kind?
What, if anything, seems to improve or worsen the symptoms?

Tests and diagnosis

For many, a physical exam and answering questions are all that's needed. If the doctor suspects underlying problems, the patient may need further tests.

These tests may include:
Physical exam. This includes examination of the penis and testicles.
Blood tests. A blood sample may be taken to check for other health problems.
Urinalysis. Urine tests are used to look for other underlying health conditions.
Overnight erection test. This test involves wrapping special tape around the penis before bed. If the tape is separated in the morning, the penis was erect during the night.
Psychological exam. The doctor screen for depression and other possible psychological problems.
Duplex ultrasound. Duplex ultrasound is used to assess blood flow, venous leak, signs of atherosclerosis, and scarring of erectile tissue.
Penile nerve function. Tests such as this are used to see if there is enough nerve sensation in the penis.
Penile biothesiometry. This test uses electromagnetic vibration to assess sensitivity and nerve function in the head and shaft of the penis.
Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). Similar to an MRI, MRA uses magnetic fields and radio waves to provide detailed images of the blood vessels.

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