Across the world, the prevalence of erectile dysfunction, or ED, is continually increasing year after year. Researchers estimate that more than 332 million men will suffer from the effects of this distressing condition by 2025. Although erectile dysfunction tests and treatment for erectile dysfunction has taken great strides in recent years, the vast majority of men experiencing ED symptoms do not seek any medical care for this condition. Of those who do acquire an ED diagnosis from their doctor, only about 25% complete the proposed treatment plan.
Due to the risk of underlying medical problems, however, an evaluation by a physician is of utmost importance upon noticing the symptoms of erectile dysfunction. Your doctor will perform tests that help you identify your ideal treatment plan, so you don’t have to live with the symptoms of erectile dysfunction for longer than necessary.
For more information, check out our “Guide to Erectile Dysfunction“.
Medical Evaluation Expectations for ED Treatments
With so many medical conditions linked to the development of erectile dysfunction, including diabetes and hypertension, most doctors are well-versed in its diagnosis and treatment. You can calm your nerves and approach the appointment with confidence by better understanding what to expect at your appointment.
Risk Factor Assessment
To prevent complications from developing, your doctor must rule out serious underlying medical conditions that often act as a causative factor for ED. Your doctor will look at your family and personal health history to determine your level of risk for those associated conditions. Upon determining your risk factors, your doctor will create a list of diagnostic tests to perform at your visit.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
While at your first appointment, you should ask your doctor a variety of questions that increase your understanding of ED. The questions will also help you gauge your doctor’s experience with ED tests and treatments.
Questions you should ask at your appointment include:
• What underlying conditions are causing my ED symptoms?
• What is the severity of my condition?
• What treatment options are recommended for ED?
• What are the risks associated with the proposed treatment plans?
• How many cases of ED have you successfully treated?
• What can I expect during the ED treatment process?
• Are there less invasive treatment options than the ones proposed?
• How will my condition progress without treatment?
Make sure to jot down the answers to your questions on a notepad for later reference as you decide between the available ED treatments.
Erectile Dysfunction Tests
Physicians frequently utilize the following common tests to diagnose erectile dysfunction and assess its severity, as well as determine treatment for erectile dysfunction.
Complete Blood Count
Anemia can cause similar symptoms as erectile dysfunction, so doctors perform a blood test to determine if you are suffering from this condition. The lab will perform a complete blood count, which measures red and white blood cells, serum hormones and serum lipids, using your blood samples. If hormone dysfunction is suspected, the lab may also check your liver, kidney and thyroid function with a full metabolic panel.
Your doctor will also likely ask you to leave a urine sample for the analysis of your protein, sugar and hormone levels. This test helps confirm or rule out underlying medical problems that may cause ED to develop, including diabetes, kidney dysfunction and low testosterone.
Liver and Kidney Function Tests
Liver and kidney disease can both cause hormonal imbalances that lead to ED.
Thyroid Function Tests
A deficiency in thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism and the production of sex hormones, may cause ED.
Erectile Tissue Evaluation
If the initial tests do not reveal the cause or severity of your erectile dysfunction symptoms, your doctor may perform an evaluation of the health of your erectile tissues.
These ultrasounds are used to evaluate your blood flow, which includes detecting venous leaks, scarring, or signs of atherosclerosis.
Your doctor may use a Digital Inflection Rigidometer, snap gauge or Rigiscan device to measure the highest level of rigidity your penis reaches during an erection. Differences between nocturnal and daytime results may reveal an underlying psychological cause. The rigidity tests also indicate the overall severity of your ED symptoms.
Penile Nerve Function
To check for nerve damage, your doctor may perform a bulbocavernosus reflex test and penile biothesiometry test. These procedures tell doctors how well the nerves in your penis are sending and receiving the signals required for a healthy erection.
Nocturnal Penile Tumescence
There are two major methods for measuring the changes to penile rigidity and circumference during nocturnal erections: snap gauge and strain gauge. The snap gauge involves wrapping three plastic bands of varying strength around the penis, and the function is assessed based on which of the bands break.
This is a portable device that can measure nocturnal erections with a pair of pressure loops that are attached at the tip and base of the penis.
Electromagnetic vibration is used to evaluate sensitivity and nerve function in the glands and penis shaft.
When injected into the penis, certain solutions can cause an erection by dilating the blood vessels in the erectile tissues. During this process, penile pressure can be measured.
Effective ED Treatments: Vacuum Therapy
When acquiring treatments for ED, it may be within your best interest to work from the least to most invasive to keep the risk of side effects to a minimum. Vacuum pump therapy gives you the ability to manually engorge your erectile tissues with blood to create a natural erection on demand. An effective tension system ensures you maintain the erection. Vacuum pump therapy produces the fastest results while offering the lowest risk of side effects, at a low, one-time cost.