What are some tests a urologist will do to diagnose erectile dysfunction?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
If you're experiencing problems with erectile dysfunction (ED), a urologist can perform specialized tests to help determine the cause. Your primary care doctor can help diagnose erectile dysfunction with a basic checkup, a medical history, and specific sexual health questionnaires. He or she will may also test your  blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels to help figure out if you have cardiovascular problems, prediabetes, or diabetes, which are common causes of ED. Your urologist, on the other hand, can give you a thorough workup, including some of the same tests your regular doctor uses, in addition to tests such as penile ultrasound, nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT), tests of hormonal levels, and other diagnostic tests.
Urologists use several tests to diagnose erection dysfunction. To check whether you have any health conditions that can cause erectile dysfunction (ED), your will first get a thorough physical workup that includes a blood pressure measurement; examination of your penis and testicles; and blood and urine tests to check for anemia (low red blood cell count), high blood cholesterol, diabetes, low testosterone, and a liver or kidney problem. The urologist may also test your bulbocavernosus reflex, which is a fancy way of saying that the head of your penis will be squeezed to test nerve function.

If the physical exam and lab tests show that you have a health condition that decreases blood flow to the penis or interferes with nerve signals that enable arousal and erection, the doctor may order a penile ultrasound scan to image blood vessels and tissues in the penis. The test can show whether blood vessels have become leaky or are narrowed because of cardiovascular (heart and vessel) disease, as well as whether there is hardened scar tissue in the penis (a condition known as “Peyronie’s disease”) that can interfere with an erection.

The doctor may also want to determine whether you have erections in your sleep with the Nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) test. Men typically have three to five erections while sleeping, and if you aren’t, it may be due to a health condition or medication that decreases blood flow to the penis or interferes with nerve signals that enable arousal and erection. If you experience erections in your sleep or upon awakening, your erectile dysfunction (ED) may be caused by stress or depression.

Whatever the cause of your difficulty in getting or maintaining an erection, your doctor can recommend treatment that will help. 

Continue Learning about Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is not a life-threatening condition but could be a symptom of something more serious, like heart disease, hypertension, or diabetes. If you are having trouble getting an erection of maintaining an erection, sp...

eak to your doctor and discuss your treatment options. Erectile dysfunction is a delicate subject to discuss for many men but stress from ED can cause the condition to worsen. Learn more about erectile dysfunction from our experts.

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.