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MediPrimer Main
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Andrology
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Prevalence of ED
Physiology of Erection
Causes of Impotence, Part I
Causes of Impotence, Part II
›› Diagnosing Erectile Dysfunction
Lab Tests for ED
Erectile Dysfunction Treatments
ED Treatments, Part II
Erectile Dysfunction Resources
Medical Info
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Main > Specialty Areas > Andrology >
Erectile Dysfunction or Impotence

Diagnosing Erectile Dysfunction

There are quite a number of ways of diagnosing erectile dysfunction. They are briefly outlined below:

Patient History

Medical and sexual histories play a very important role in help defining the degree and nature of ED. Patient history discloses diseases and conditions that the patient has suffered that might have led to ED, while a simple recounting of sexual activity might distinguish among problems with sexual desire, erection, ejaculation, or orgasm. Using certain prescription or illegal drugs can suggest a chemical cause, since drug effects account for 25 percent of ED cases. Cutting back on or substituting certain medications can often alleviate the problem. Hence, well-defined patient history helps in identifying exact cause and nature of Ed, leading to an appropriate action to counter it.

Physical Examination

A physical examination can give clues to systemic problems. For example, if the penis is insensitive to touch, a problem in the nervous system may be the cause. The examiner might discover a circulatory problem by observing decreased pulses in the wrist or ankles. And unusual characteristics of the penis itself could suggest the source of the problem—for example, a penis that bends or curves when erect could be the result of Peyronie's disease. Abnormal secondary sex characteristics, such as hair pattern or breast enlargement, can point to hormonal problems, which would mean that the endocrine system is involved.

One on One Interactive Session with a Therapist

A psychosocial examination, using an interview and a questionnaire, reveals psychological factors. A man's sexual partner may also be interviewed to determine expectations and perceptions during sexual intercourse.

Duplex ultrasound

Duplex ultrasound is used to evaluate blood flow, venous leak, signs of artherosclerosis, and scarring or calcification of erectile tissue. Injecting prostaglandin, a hormone-like stimulator produced in the body, induces erection. Ultrasound is then used to see vascular dilation and measure penile blood pressure. Measurements are compared to those taken when the penis is flaccid.

Penile nerves function

Tests such as the bulbocavernosus reflex test are used to determine if there is sufficient nerve sensation in the penis. The physician squeezes the glans (head) of the penis, which immediately causes the anus to contract if nerve function is normal. A physician measures the latency between squeeze and contraction by observing the anal sphincter or by feeling it with a gloved finger inserted past the anus. Specific nerve tests are used in patients with suspected nerve damage as a result of diabetes or nerve disease.

Nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT)

It is normal for a man to have five to six erections during sleep, especially during rapid eye movement (REM). Their absence may indicate a problem with nerve function or blood supply in the penis. There are two methods for measuring changes in penile rigidity and circumference during nocturnal erection: snap gauge and strain gauge.

Penile biothesiometry

This test uses electromagnetic vibration to evaluate sensitivity and nerve function in the glands and shaft of the penis. A decreased perception of vibration may indicate nerve damage in the pelvic area, which can lead to impotence.

‹‹ Causes of Impotence, Part II Lab Tests for ED ››

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