Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition where a man either lacks the ability to get an erection and retain it long enough for a satisfactory sexual intercourse or have difficulties in getting an erection. It has been found out that there are numerous causes of the condition. Some causes are psychological while others are physical. So, diagnosing the condition requires a variety of tests. The kind of treatment for the condition depends on the cause and when the cause is found, treatment should begin immediately.
How to diagnose erectile dysfunction
If you suspect that you may have ED, you need to consult your physician first. In the alternative, you could also visit your local genitourinary medicine clinic. Take note that your physician will ask for your medical history and he will also ask about your past and present sexual activities. You may find this a little difficult to discuss but you should understand that the more information you give him, the more he can help you.
Some men feel better discussing such issues with male doctors, if it will help, you can also ask for a male doctor too. Some of the questions you may be asked could be about:
In addition to the list above, you may also be asked about your sexual history and it may include details of your past and current sexual partners. Here is the most difficult part… you may be asked about your sexual orientation, sexual belief, your libido and what gives you an erection when you are with your partner and what gives you an erection when you are alone. Your physician will also like to know if you usually have an erection first thing in the morning or not. Most importantly, your GP will ask you if you are able to ejaculate or orgasm. So, it may be a good idea to prepare yourself for these questions before seeing your GP. That way, you won’t be rattled with the questions.
If you no longer get an erection at all under any circumstances, chances are good that it has a physical cause. On the other hand, if the problem only occurs when you are with your partner, the problem will likely be a psychological one.
Some medical conditions like diabetes or cardiovascular disease can worsen ED and so such diseases should be treated first. In fact, sometimes, solving the causal problem is all a patient needs and his erection problems will disappear.
Any physical condition that restricts blood flow can also cause ED, so your GP may need to carry out urine and blood tests on you and he may also need to take your waist circumference measurement, your height, your blood pressure, and your weight. In addition, he may also listen to your heart. All these tests are to find out whether you have a condition that is restricting your blood flow or not.
Any condition that narrows your blood vessels can also cause ED since it will reduce the amount of blood flow to the penis. Your doctor may also carry out physical evaluation of your penis to be sure that you don’t have any structural problems in your penis that is stifling blood flow to it. This condition is known as Peyronie’s disease. It is usually caused by a hardened scar tissue in the penis.
Some tests for erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is usually caused by an underlying condition so when you have ED symptoms some tests will be carried out to find out the cause. Here are some of the tests.
Complete blood count test: This test is used to find out a number of health issues that can lead to ED. A good example of such conditions is anemia. The condition leads to fatigue which in turn, can cause ED.
Blood glucose level: This is actually to test if you have diabetes or not. This is because the condition can contribute to erection problems.
Lipid test: Higher level of lipids in the body is a sign of cholesterol because lipids are fats. Cholesterol can harden your arteries thereby reduce blood flow to the penis.
Blood hormone tests: Low sex hormone like testosterone in the blood can also be a factor so your level of blood hormone will also be tested.
Urine test: It is also necessary to test the sugar level, protein level, and testosterone level in your urine as it can be used to diagnose certain conditions that may be contributing to ED.
Apart from all the tests listed above, your liver and kidneys will also be tested to be sure that they are in perfect condition. If after all these tests, the cause is still not ascertained, you may be referred to a urologist that will carry out other tests. However, if the problems seem to have psychological undertone, you will have to go for psychological assessment and psychological solutions such as sexual counselling.
On rare cases, patients of ED are subjected to even more advanced tests that have been discussed below.
An intracavernous injection test: Here, a hormone that increases blood flow will be injected into your penis to see if the problem will cease. If it does, then you may have blood flow problems. This injection is usually followed by an ultrasound scan to see the images of your tissues and blood vessels. Your blood vessels may be narrowed or they may be leaky.
The nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) test: This test involves placing elastic bands around the tip and base of the penis when you are about to sleep to show if you experience erections while sleeping or not.
Arteriography and dynamic infusion cavernosometry: This test is to check the condition of your blood vessels. It involves injecting a special dye into the blood vessels of the penis. This dye will be clearly seen on a scanner. So, the movement of the dye within your blood vessels ill show how they are working.
What is the link between testosterone and ED?
Testosterone is the male hormone responsible for sexual response in men. Low testosterone can cause low libido and erectile problems. But having ED does not mean you have low testosterone. So, fixing low testosterone problems won’t solve your erection problems.
However, your testosterone level may be taken in case other tests are inconclusive. It is also important to remind you that testosterone level varies at different times so it may be taken more than once. When your low testosterone is coupled with other conditions like fatigue and low sexual urge, you may have the condition called hypogonadism. This means that you have an abnormally low testosterone and this can lead to ED.