Common Medical Tests to Help Diagnose ED
Guys are bad at asking for help. Trouble expressing emotions about health, anxiety, fear, and overall embarrassment are all common reasons why men choose not to pay the doctor a visit. When the health concern is of a sexual nature—like erectile dysfunction (ED)—men can be even less likely to seek medical attention.
But men are beginning to understand that erectile dysfunction is not unique to them—it’s something that impacts millions of Canadians of all ages. More importantly, science has uncovered the most likely causes of erectile dysfunction and how to treat it.
When you do go see your doctor, here are some tests she or he might perform to understand what might be causing your particular case of ED.
High blood pressure (aka hypertension) is a common condition among men with ED. Hypertension makes your heart have to work harder to pump blood through the arteries, and may cause a lack of sufficient blood flow to the penis necessary for an erection. High blood pressure is also the number one risk of stroke and heart disease—so it’s important to get a handle on it. Depending on your circumstances, simple changes to diet and exercise could be enough. Your doctor may also prescribe medication.
Your doctor may perform a routine check of your testicles and penis to make sure the hardware is working fine. Injuries from sports, falls, and sexual activity can all impede the penis’s ability to function. If damage is done to the blood vessels in and around the penis, it may not be able to get the necessary blood to achieve and maintain an erection. The doctor can also check for possible signs of testicular cancer.
Results from blood tests help your doctor better understand your erectile dysfunction by eliminating certain causes, allowing them to come up with an effective approach to treat it. The doctor might order a blood test to check your hormone levels, blood glucose, or cholesterol levels. Testosterone—a hormone produced mainly by the testicles—plays an important role in men’s sexual desire and performance. For their part, elevated blood sugars may be an indicator of diabetes, which, like hypertension, is very common among men with erectile dysfunction.
Common and serious sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be damaging to penis health. For instance, if untreated, chlamydia can infect the prostate and cause prostatitis. This condition has been associated with an increased prevalence of ED. Many STIs are treatable with antibiotics or other medications. Though they can have severe damaging effects on the body and should be dealt with promptly.
Your penis is more active than you think while you’re fast asleep. Most men have between 3 and 5 full erections during deep sleep. An NPT test tries to determine whether or not this normal cycle of erections is occurring. The test, which can take place at home or in special sleep labs, measures the quality and quantity of erections over two nights of sleep. If erections are normal, any ED experienced during waking hours is less likely to be a result of physical problems. In that case, psychological factors like depression and anxiety may be at play.
This test goes straight to the source. Medicine is injected into the side of the penis to cause an erection. The doctor will then measure the fullness and duration of an erection to help determine the underlying causes of ED. A positive response to injections will rule out certain causes of ED, and allow your healthcare provider to gain more insight into your particular condition.
Ultrasound is not just an effective tool for expectant mothers. In the diagnosis of ED, a small ultrasound device is passed gently over the penis to assess blood flow. Like the NPT test, if the ultrasound reveals there are no apparent blood flow issues resulting in erectile dysfunction, psychological and emotional factors may be the culprits.
Your doctor is the best resource for the diagnosis and treating ED. They may prescribe common medications, suggest changes to diet and lifestyle, or refer you to a therapist who can help treat anxiety and depression-related ED.
There are many options available, and plenty of people are willing to help. So take care of yourself and go seek medical help.