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St. Petersburg General Hospital
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mins

Diagnosis of Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence)

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Be prepared to identify every medication you are taking. As many as 25% of erectile dysfunction cases are due to medications. 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.

Your penis, testes, and rectum will be examined. If a physical cause is suspected, laboratory tests may be ordered. The following factors will be evaluated:

  • Laboratory tests —Blood glucose, lipids (cholesterol), and thyroid function tests are likely to be advised.
  • 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.
  • Cardiac function tests—These tests may be considered by your doctor. Poor cardiovascular function is associated with erectile dysfunction.

Revision Information

  • 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. Endocr Pract. 2003;9:77-95.

  • Heidelbaugh J. Management of erectile dysfunction. Am Fam Physician. 2010 Feb 1;81(3):305-312. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2010/0201/p305.html. Accessed March 8, 2016.

  • 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. Updated November 2015. Accessed March 8, 2016.

  • Sivalingam S, Hashim H, et al. An overview of the diagnosis and treatment of erectile dysfunction. Drugs. 2006;66:2339-2355.

  • Webber R. Erectile dysfunction. Clinical Evidence. 2005;13:1120-1127.