How do doctors test for erectile dysfunction?

How do doctors test for erectile dysfunction?
Published : Jul 03, 2024


Erectile dysfunction is a condition in which a man has repeated trouble attaining or sustaining an erection for sexual intercourse. It is a very common sexual disorder that affects men of almost all ages. Half of men older than age of 40 years experience some degree of erectile dysfunction.

Most erection problems are caused due to a mix of nerve, blood vessel, or psychological disorders. To find the cause, the doctor might recommend some tests. If you wish to get your sexual life back on track, an ED test can help things move faster.

In this blog, you will learn about the most common types of ED tests that help in figuring out what’s wrong. Some tests might help in determining the factors that are causing erectile dysfunction in your case, while others can help you determine whether you have ED or not.

Related Article: How to Know If You Have ED

About ED tests

Before you know about the ED tests in detail, it is essential to understand why erections happen.

Erectile dysfunction can happen due to several reasons. Some men experience ED due to physical causes like thyroid disorders, high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and other medical conditions that affect blood flow. Moreover, certain over-the-counter medications and prescription medications, such as antidepressants, can also cause ED.

Some men also experience erectile dysfunction due to psychological disorders. If you have psychological ED, things such as low self-esteem, stress, sexual performance anxiety, and low sexual desire can be the cause.

Also, Learn the causes of ED in young men here- Erectile Dysfunction in Young Men.

Unlike other medical conditions, which can be diagnosed accurately with clinical tests. There is no standardized test to confirm whether you have erectile dysfunction or not and why it is occurring.

Generally, urologists look for any damage to the base of the male sexual organ and chronic problems that affect your blood vessels, malfunctioning penile implants, and side effects of medicines. They might conduct a physical exam and ask about your medical history and sexual history to diagnose erectile dysfunction.

Depending on the causes of Erectile dysfunction, the doctor will advise the suitable treatment option for you. They might suggest oral erectile dysfunction medications, testosterone replacement therapy, penile implants, injections, and surgery.

ED tests can help in figuring out whether the cause of your erectile dysfunction is physical or psychological. Some common erectile dysfunction tests include:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) test
  • Nerve tests
  • Duplex ultrasound test
  • Venous leak test

Let us quickly know about these ED tests in detail:

Blood tests

Blood tests help the doctor check for conditions that can contribute to ED. For example, your doctor might check the amount of sugar present in your blood, which can indicate if you have diabetes

He might also check to see if you have fewer red blood cells, which can cause anaemia and fatigue. High cholesterol levels are also associated with poor erectile function and might be checked through blood tests.

Certain levels of hormones might be tested because too high levels of thyroid and too low levels of testosterone contribute to sexual problems like erectile dysfunction.

Urine tests

Your doctor might ask you to give a urine sample to obtain information about your protein and sugar levels. This will help the doctor to determine if kidney disorder or diabetes is contributing to erectile dysfunction problems.

Nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) test

The Nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) test is done to check if you are experiencing normal erections during sleep. During deep sleep, it is common for men to have at least 3 to 5 full erections.

If you do not have erections due to psychological problems, men can still have erections during their deep sleep. Sometimes, sleep problems or severe depression can prevent you from experiencing normal night-time erections.

The Nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) test can be done at home or in a special sleep lab. Generally, this test is done for two regular nights. If good erections happen during sleep, the cause of your erection disorder is not likely to be physical. Sometimes, doctors call the NPT test, the stamp test, or the rigidity test.

Nerve tests

Erectile nerve tests are a specific type of ED test that is done to ensure that you are not failing to get hard because you are not able to feel stimulation due to a lack of male sexual organ sensitivity. ED nerve testing helps to determine nerve sensitivity and function in the male reproductive organ by sending small vibrations on both the left and right sides of the penile shaft.

If the male reproductive organ fails to react to the vibrations, nerve damage can be the cause of erectile dysfunction. A positive result can mean anything like a pinched nerve and neurological erectile dysfunction.

Duplex ultrasound test

An imbalance of penile blood flow is considered the leading cause of erectile dysfunction. To achieve an erection, rapid inflow of blood through the penile arteries is essential. To sustain an erection, the outflow of blood from the male sexual organ should be temporarily minimized.

A duplex ultrasound test helps the doctor to check how blood flows in the male sexual organ during and after an erection. The result will allow the doctor to diagnose and assess the degree of erectile dysfunction.

This ultrasound test also helps the doctor to know whether erectile dysfunction medicines, which dilate blood vessels, might be an effective treatment for you, as similar medicines are used during this test.

Before the ultrasound test, the doctor injects the base of the male sexual organ with a medicine that leads to an erection. An ultrasound device is then used to measure blood flow in the male reproductive organs before and during an erection.

Venous leak test

If the result of your ultrasound tests comes positive, venous leak testing can help in determining the source of leaks. This is common in men experiencing erectile dysfunction at the age of 40.

Final Lines

Therefore, erectile dysfunction tests are the best way to find out the cause of your erection problem, whether it is physical, psychological, or both. After finding the cause of ED, your doctor will prescribe suitable treatment options. One of the most prescribed treatments for ED is prescription drugs that stimulate your erectile tissue to help maintain penile erection sufficient for sexual intercourse.

Also, Discover About- Myths and Facts About ED or Impotence