A doctor, such as a urologist, typically diagnoses erectile problems or ED through a medical and sexual history, a thorough physical exam, and occasionally lab tests and imaging. While it may be difficult to talk to a healthcare professional about ED, it’s important to remember that the more he or she knows about your condition, the more likely it is they’ll be able to help you with your sexual health.
Medical and sexual history
Taking a medical and sexual history is one of the first things a doctor will do to help diagnose ED. He or she will ask you to provide information, such as
- How often your penis is firm enough for intercourse
- How often you are able to maintain an erection during sexual intercourse
- How often you find sexual intercourse satisfying
- Any surgeries or treatments that may have damaged your nerves or blood vessels near the penis
- Any prescription or over-the-counter medicines you take
- Any other previous conditions, diseases, or health problems you might have had
All of this information can help your doctor understand the erectile problems you may be having. A comprehensive medical history can reveal possible causes and underlying diseases that may be contributing to your erectile difficulties, as well as help to identify the most effective treatment plan.
Mental health and physical exam
Your doctor may ask you some personal questions and use a questionnaire to help diagnose any psychological or emotional issues that may be leading to ED. He or she also will perform a thorough physical exam to help diagnose the causes of ED, and identify if the problem might be a nervous system issue, Peyronie’s disease, hormonal problems, circulation issues, or another root physical cause.
If nothing conclusive is found with these initial tests, your doctor may order any of the following tests to further diagnose your condition:
- Duplex ultrasound: An ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to take "pictures" of the body's tissues. For people with ED, an ultrasound may be used to evaluate blood flow and check for signs of a venous leak, atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries) or tissue scarring.
- Complete blood count (CBC): This is a set of blood tests that, among other things, can detect the presence of anemia. Anemia is caused by a low red blood cell count and can cause fatigue, which in turn can cause ED.
- Liver and kidney function tests: These blood tests may indicate whether ED may be due to your kidneys or liver functioning improperly.
- Thyroid function test: One of the thyroid hormones' functions is to regulate the production of sex hormones, and a deficiency in these hormones may contribute to or cause ED.
- Urinalysis: Analysis of urine can provide a wealth of information, including information on protein, sugar and testosterone levels. Abnormal measurements of these substances can indicate diabetes, kidney disease or a testosterone deficiency, all which can cause ED.
Once you and your healthcare provider determine the possible causes of your erectile difficulties, consider helping your physical symptoms through penile exercises and vacuum pumps that can help restore sexual function and improve erectile difficulties. Vacuum pumps are easy to use, and as the world’s only hydro pump, VaxAid pumps use water to provide a safe, solid cushion around the penis. They can easily be incorporated as part of your daily wash routine and are an easy, non-invasive way to help restore sexual function over time.