Diagnosis of Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence)
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Be prepared to identify every medication you are taking. As many as 25% of erectile dysfunction cases are due to medicines. Expect questions about the frequency, quality, and duration of your erections. Your answers may help determine if primarily psychological and/or physiological factors are causing your impotence.
The doctor will examine your penis, testes, and rectum. If a physical cause is suspected, laboratory tests may be ordered. The following factors will be evaluated:
Routine laboratory tests—Blood count, urinalysis, and a battery of blood chemistry tests will evaluate your general health.
Testosterone—If you are over 50 years old or if your doctor suspects hypogonadism (small testes and reduced bodily hair), a blood test for testosterone will be ordered.
Endocrine tests—Other endocrine tests may be ordered, such as thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), prolactin, and fasting blood sugar.
Nocturnal erections—Potent men have spontaneous erections at night. If you do not remember them because you were asleep, there are devices that can measure and record them.
Psychology—There are always psychological factors associated with sexual functioning, whether they are the cause or just a result. You and possibly your partner may be given a questionnaire to help determine what emotional and psychological factors may be contributing to your condition.
Guay AT, Spark RF, et al. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists medical guidelines for clinical practice for the evaluation and treatment of male sexual dysfunction: a couple’s problem. 2003 update.
National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases. Erectile dysfunction. National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases website. Available at:
http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/ED. Accessed August 8, 2010.
Sivalingam S, Hashim H, et al. An overview of the diagnosis and treatment of erectile dysfunction.
Webber R. Erectile dysfunction.