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Evaluating Erectile Dysfunction

Many men feel embarrassed to talk to a doctor about erectile dysfunction (ED). This common problem can be treated, but only if your doctor knows about it. Your doctor will likely ask you questions about your ED. Whether you’re asked or not, tell your doctor anything that might help your doctor understand the problem. Your doctor may do an exam and may run some tests to help find the cause of your ED.

Close up of doctor and patient talking.

A Simple Exam

A medical exam may help your doctor understand what is causing your problem. ED is sometimes the first sign of some other health problem, so your doctor may check your overall health. He or she may also examine your penis, scrotum, and testicles. Tell your doctor about all of the medications you take, including prescribed and over-the-counter medications, as well as any herbs or supplements.

You May Have Some Tests

Your doctor may recommend some or all of these tests:

  • Blood tests measure your levels of hormones or lipids (fatty substances in the blood, including cholesterol). Other tests check for diabetes or help show the health of your liver, kidneys, and prostate.

  • Blood flow tests check how well blood moves through your penis.

  • A rectal exam checks for an enlarged prostate gland. An enlarged prostate and ED have been linked in recent studies.

  • Additional tests check for other conditions that limit your ability to have intercourse.

Your Treatment Plan

Based on what you say and what any exam shows, your doctor will recommend a treatment plan. The first step may be to try ED medications, since they help most men. If they don’t help you, your doctor can suggest other kinds of treatment. You and your partner may also want to discuss which options would work best in your relationship. Treatment may include addressing the cause of health problems, such as lowering your cholesterol. And counseling may be recommended to talk about underlying emotional issues.

Online Medical Reviewer: Fincannon, Joy, RN, MN
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 2/10/2013
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.