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Erectile Dysfunction Diagnosis

When considering a diagnosis of erectile dysfunction, a healthcare provider asks certain questions, performs a physical exam, and reviews the results of tests, including blood counts, urinalysis, and lipid profiles. The healthcare provider may also order a psychosocial examination, which uses an interview and a questionnaire, to reveal any psychological factors affecting the diagnosis.

How Is Erectile Dysfunction Diagnosed?

In order to make a diagnosis of erectile dysfunction (ED), the healthcare provider will likely:
  • Ask a number of questions about your history
  • Perform a physical exam
  • Order some tests.


Your Patient History

Medical and sexual histories help determine the degree and cause of erectile dysfunction. Your medical history can identify diseases that lead to erectile dysfunction, while a simple discussion of sexual activity with your healthcare provider might reveal problems with:
  • Sexual desire
  • Erection
  • Ejaculation
  • Orgasm.
Using certain prescription or illegal drugs can also cause erectile dysfunction. In fact, drug effects account for 25 percent of erectile dysfunction cases. Cutting back on or substituting certain medications can often alleviate the problem.

Diagnosing Erectile Dysfunction With a Physical Examination

A physical examination can give your healthcare provider clues to systemic problems. For example, if the penis is not sensitive to touch, there may be a problem with your nervous system. Abnormal secondary sex characteristics, such as hair pattern or breast enlargement, can point to hormonal problems, which would mean that the endocrine system is involved.
Your healthcare provider can determine if a circulatory problem is causing erectile dysfunction by observing decreased pulses in the wrist or ankles. And unusual characteristics of the penis itself could suggest the source of the problem -- for example, a penis that bends or curves when erect could be the result of Peyronie's disease.
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