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How To Know If You Have Erectile Dysfunction

How To Know If You Have Erectile Dysfunction


For many men, a physical exam and answering questions (medical history) are all that's needed for a doctor to diagnose erectile dysfunction and recommend a treatment. If you have chronic health conditions or your doctor suspects that an underlying condition might be involved, you might need further tests or a consultation with a specialist.

Tests for underlying conditions might include:

Physical exam. This might include careful examination of your penis and testicles and checking your nerves for sensation.

Blood tests. A sample of your blood might be sent to a lab to check for signs of heart disease, diabetes, low testosterone levels and other health conditions.

Urine tests (urinalysis). Like blood tests, urine tests are used to look for signs of diabetes and other underlying health conditions.

How is ED diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and health history. They may do tests to determine if your symptoms are caused by an underlying condition. You should expect a physical exam where your doctor will listen to your heart and lungs, check your blood pressure, and examine your testicles and penis. They may also recommend a rectal exam to check your prostate. Additionally, you may need blood or urine tests to rule out other conditions.

Why can’t I get an erection?

If you struggle to achieve or maintain an erection, it can be disappointing, but try not to lose hope. More often than not, erectile dysfunction (also known as impotence) is an emotional issue, and worrying about it tends to make things worse.

‘Erectile dysfunction is a male sexual dysfunction characterised by the inability to gain or maintain an erection of the penis,’ says Psychosexual & Relationship Psychotherapist Kate Moyle. ‘Most commonly, this is associated with sexual activity, but it can also impact masturbation, self-confidence and relationships.’

What causes erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction can be impacted by both physical and psychological factors. ‘Sexual arousal is a complex process that involves hormones, the brain, emotions as well as the body, and a problem with any of these can therefore impact functioning,’ says Moyle.

‘Lifestyle factors such as stress and mental health can worsen or cause erectile dysfunction as we look beyond just pure biology to understand the problem. Anxiety because of erectile dysfunction due to a medical issue can also exacerbate the symptoms.’

What is erectile dysfunction exactly?

Also known as ED, erectile dysfunction is defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection firm enough for sex but what exactly happens? Inside the penis there are two long, cylindrical chambers called the corpora cavernosa which contain myriad blood vessels and tissues as well as one major artery in each of the two.

When you become aroused, your brain sends chemical messages to the blood vessels in the penis, causing them to dilate or open, allowing blood to flow into the penis. As the pressure builds, the blood becomes trapped in the corpora cavernosa, keeping the penis erect. If blood flow to the penis is insufficient or if it fails to stay inside the penis, it can lead to erectile dysfunction.

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