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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.

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.

  • 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. Drugs. 2006;66:2339-2355.

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