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How can I find out the cause of my partner's erectile dysfunction (ED)?

Madeleine M. Castellanos, MD
Psychiatry

Want to know if the cause of your partner's erectile problem is physical or psychological? Work with him to understand how his body responds in various situations by trying these tricks.

  • Check his meds. Your guy can bring a list of the medications and supplements he takes to his doctor or pharmacist, who can help determine if erectile dysfunction (ED) is a side effect.
  • Do the tape test. Normally, a man can develop an erection during the night or upon awakening. This body response is known as nocturnal penile tumescence and is proof that he's physically able to have an erection. If your guy isn't sure, he can wrap a very thin and narrow piece of tissue paper around his flaccid penis, secured with a little bit of scotch tape. It's likely that if he has an erection when he's sleeping the paper will break to some degree. If he easily gets an erection during sleep, but not in other situations, the cause is likely psychological. If not, the reason is likely physical.
  • Let him give himself a hand. If a guy can get aroused when he's alone (and masturbating, for example) and not when he's with a partner, the cause is psychological.
While these are only three basic facets of physical and psychological causes they can help determine what type of expert to contact in an effort to understand what is going on and who to see for help.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.