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How Are Impotence and Erectile Dysfunction Diagnosed?


Doctor talking with patient in doctors office
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Occasional impotence is common in men, and can be caused by worry, stress, or the temporary side effect of some medications. If, however, you notice erectile dysfunction lasts longer than a couple of months, or it recurs often, it’s best to seek medical advice, either from your regular doctor or a specialist.

Your doctor will likely perform examinations and some tests to rule out common causes of erectile dysfunction or impotence:

  • Urine and blood sugar tests will rule out diabetes, a common cause of erectile dysfunction.
  • Blood pressure and blood flow in the penis can be checked.
  • Your doctor may want to perform a test which measure nighttime erections. You’ll be given a band to place around your penis before you go to bed. If you get an erection during sleep, the band breaks. Generally, if a man does not have a nighttime erection for several nights in a row, it’s a good indication that blood flow to his penis is reduced.
  • Your testosterone level may be checked. A low level of testosterone can cause impotence or erectile dysfunction.
  • Urinary tract exams and tests can rule out problems with the bladder and urethra, which can contribute to erectile dysfunction.
  • Your doctor may ask you to take a test for depression, which is a common cause of impotence. Other emotional problems like worry, stress, or fear (see Common Causes above) will be considered, especially if physical causes of erectile dysfunction are ruled out.

    If your doctor suspects that depression or other emotional issues are contributing to your impotence, he or she may prescribe medication or refer you to a psychotherapist or counselor for additional support.

There Are Treatments Available to Help You
The good news here is that erectile dysfunction can often be treated, if you are willing to seek help. Discuss your fears with your partner, and talk candidly with your doctor.

Don’t let shame keep you from receiving treatment that may improve your impotence and your self-esteem.

For information on possible causes of impotence and erectile dysfunction, see Impotence and Erectile Dysfunction: Common Causes

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