Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection, making satisfactory sexual intercourse impossible. There can be many causes for this condition, and there are also many ways to find out which one it is.
This article explains the different types of tests your doctor can perform to determine the best treatment for you. We’ll also look at the many causes of ED.
Because there are so many causes of ED, your doctor may perform a series of tests to determine the best treatment for you.
First and foremost, the urologist will probably ask about your medical and sexual history to better understand the root cause of the problem. The clinical interview will determine what medications you take, injuries, and lifestyle choices.
The doctor will ask about your sexual history to find out if the problem is more physical or mental. Be 100% honest, as this will make their job easier.
Your doctor will probably start by asking you about your mental well-being to check for symptoms of depression, anxiety, or any other stress-related illness.
The doctor may also ask to have an interview with your partner to see if the relationship is affecting your ability to have sex. It’s common for men to suffer from ED when there are relationship problems.
A physical exam will make sure your penis and testicles appear normal. The doctor might check if you have noticeable hair loss or enlarged breasts, as these can be signs of hormonal problems.
Furthermore, the doctor will check your pulse, listen to your heart, and take your blood pressure to make sure blood flow is normal.
At the end of the physical examination, your doctor might send you for blood and urine tests. These exams can ensure there’s no disease-causing ED — for example, diabetes and heart disease.
Your doctor may also check that your thyroid is functioning properly. This gland is located in your neck and has several functions, including helping the flow of sex hormones.
The overnight erection test involves placing a device around your penis before sleeping to calculate how many erections you have in one night. Typically, there are 3 to 5 erections while you sleep.
If you don’t have enough erections per night, it is most likely that the ED happens because of physical issues.
The injection or intracavernosal test involves injecting a drug at the base of the penis to cause an erection. If the medication does not produce an effect, the ED is probably caused by a problem with the penis’ blood flow.
However, the intracavernosal injection can have side effects. The most common are pain on erection and redness at the puncture site. However, the most serious is priapism —a prolonged erection.
Like the injection test, Doppler ultrasound checks penile blood flow. These two methods are often used together for corroboration.
This test involves placing a device on the penis that uses sound waves to create a video of the blood vessels.
The causes of ED can be either physical or psychological, or even a mixture of both. Although the following are the most common causes, there are more.
When you are stressed, brain activity that controls sexual excitation decreases. Psychological causes are not directly related to sex but to work problems, periods of tension, or any kind of stressful trigger from your everyday life.
For this reason, talking to your partner or talking to a psychologist can be a significant step in overcoming it.
Vascular diseases are some of the most common causes of ED among patients. For example, diabetes and arteriosclerosis of larger arteries, as in hypertension, cause arterial insufficiency and ED.
ED may also be caused by high cholesterol or smoking and is more likely to happen in patients who have received radiotherapy treatment.
Neurological causes occur when the brain components that induce erection are damaged or not functioning as they should. They are also a product of alterations of the autonomic and somatic nerve pathways or a combination of both.
Hormonal causes are some of the least frequent and are simply due to a lack of male sex hormones. For example, diabetes mellitus is the endocrine disorder that most frequently causes ED.
Unfortunately, many medications have the side effect of decreasing the ability to have an erection. The most common are those that treat hypertension, heart disease, and psychiatric disorders.
There are several reasons why ED may occur. Fortunately, there are multiple tests to determine what the cause is.
Generally, the best way to prevent ED is to lead a healthier life, both physically and psychologically. Therefore, try exercising daily, eating a balanced diet rich in protein, potassium, antioxidants, iron, calcium, fruits, and vegetables, and leading a low-stress life.
If those steps don’t help, go see your doctor. ED can be easy to treat, and you’ll find peace of mind knowing the cause.