Erectile Dysfunction Test: What Tests Confirm My Diagnosis?
If you’re a man who has suffered problems with intimacy and getting and maintaining an erection, you are not alone. At least 30 million American men have dealt with erectile dysfunction (ED) at one time or another. And, though opinions have changed over the years, medical professionals now believe 90 percent of cases do have a physical health link.
Sometimes, these problems have only once or twice and are temporary, but just as many men experience ongoing issues with sexual function. The problems can be physical or emotional, too, and figuring out the underlying cause of ED is one of the most important parts of finding a resolution to your problem.
One of the first places you should turn if you are concerned about problems with erectile dysfunction is to your doctor. Initially, you’ll undergo an exam that looks at your medical history and your overall health. Your general practitioner will perform diagnostic tests to rule out a few more serious possibilities such as heart disease, damaged blood vessels, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease and to identify any obvious causes of ED.
Often, diagnosing ED is as simple as determining there is an ongoing health condition, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Getting these issues under control is your first priority and once they are under control, you can look at ways to improve sexual function.
Extensive Testing May Be Needed
If your doctor is unable to determine the cause of ED easily because of an obvious health condition, you’ll need to undergo more intensive testing. These tests are likely to include:
- Physical exam of your genitals
- Blood tests to look for diabetes, hormonal imbalance, and other issues
- Urine tests for diabetes or other health issues
- Ultrasound to look for blood flow issues
- Psychological exam to check for depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, or any other mental health issue that could be connected to ED
Another test that is commonly used for confirming a diagnosis of ED is the nocturnal erection test. This test is based on the fact that the average healthy man will develop at least one erection while he is sleeping at night.
The test is used to determine if an erection does develop. If it does, that leads doctors to believe the problem is emotional or mental. If no erection occurs during the course of a normal night of sleeping, chances are the problem has roots in the man’s physical health.
The test is conducted by placing a ring of tape around the penis at bedtime. If an erection develops, the tape separates and there is proof of the erection in the morning. If it stays intact, there was no erection or it wasn’t enough of an erection to be considered healthy.
There are many physical reasons why an erection won’t occur overnight, including:
- Previous stroke
- High blood pressure
- Multiple sclerosis
- Vascular disease
The results of the nocturnal erection test will be compared with the other test results to confirm an exact diagnosis of the problem and to help in planning treatment for the patient.
Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction
The good news for men suffering from erectile dysfunction in our modern world is that there are many different ways the problem can be treated.
In many cases, dealing with the underlying cause is enough to eliminate ED. For instance, if a man has undiagnosed depression and sees a doctor and begins treatment for depression, there’s a good chance things will improve with his sexual function. On the other hand, some medications used to treat depression can affect a man’s libido. If they are already receiving medical care, their doctor will know what problems are common and can troubleshoot them as they arise.
In the case that ED is not caused by an underlying issue, there are still plenty of options. Or if the underlying issue is normal or “no big deal,” this is also the case.
For instance, many men’s levels of testosterone drop as they age. It’s a relatively normal part of aging and all people experience fluctuations in their hormones as they get older. So, the underlying condition is low testosterone but there’s no disease or illness that needs attention. They simply need to find ways to boost testosterone, which can be done with medical supplements or to counteract the imbalance in lifestyle changes. Some men find getting more active helps to counteract the decrease in testosterone they experience as they get older.
There are also several medications available for treating ED. Many of these are considered safe, have relatively few side effects, and are extremely effective at improving sexual function.
Some of the most popular medications include:
Not all of these are right for everyone and you’ll need a doctor’s prescription to use them safely. However, if you’re experiencing ED and you’d like to give a pharmaceutical a try, you’ll likely receive one of these options.
In addition to pharmaceuticals, many men have had success using herbal supplements. Some use vitamins if they have a deficiency that is affecting sexual health, but others find that herbal medications work best. Herbal medications are natural, but this doesn’t mean they are safe for everyone. They can also interact with other drugs so it’s important to let your doctor know you’re trying an herbal supplement before introducing it into your system.
In addition to these oral options, there are also several topical or non-invasive treatment methods for ED. Erection pumps have become extremely common for men to use and many medical professionals recommend them because they are safe for everyone if used correctly and they can be used in conjunction with other treatments and other medications in general.
The most challenging part of using an erection pump is overcoming your anxiety and learning to use it effectively. Many pumps come with manuals and DVDs that offer step-by-step instructions.
Finally, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to treat ED, including changing your diet and getting more exercise. It’s also a good idea to focus on stress reduction since stress and anxiety are so closely linked to dysfunction in the bedroom. Introducing things like yoga, breathing work, tai chi, walking, and vegetables and fruits into your diet can have a dramatic effect on ED.