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Discussing Erectile Dysfunction With Your Doctor

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What Will Happen at the Doctor's Office?

Some men are afraid to bring the subject of ED up once they're in the doctor's office. The best approach is to be straight forward and simply say, "I think I may have ED." It's very unlikely that your doctor is going to be shocked or embarrassed by that. If, however, it does appear as the conversation proceeds that your doctor isn't comfortable talking about sexual issues with you, ask if the doctor can refer you to a urologist.

The doctor will start by asking about your medical history to learn more about your symptoms, medical conditions, and medication use. Many of the questions may seem extremely personal. But it's important to answer them fully and honestly. The doctor will need the information in order to know how to approach treating you. The questions may include:

  • Do you ever get an erection?
  • If you do, is it firm enough to have intercourse?
  • If you do start intercourse, do you then lose the erection? Does it ever come back?
  • Can you get an erection by masturbation?
  • Do you ever wake from sleep with an erection?

The doctor will want to know whether you smoke, how much alcohol you drink, and whether or not you use recreational drugs. All of this information is essential for identifying or ruling out factors that can be contributing to the ED.

The doctor will also do a physical exam, including examining your penis and prostate. The exam may include blood tests and other lab tests to check for potential medical problems such as diabetes or heart disease that could be related to ED.

If further tests or exams are necessary, the doctor may refer you to a urologist. When you see the urologist, ask the same questions you asked your own doctor, and you should expect the urologist to ask questions very similar to the ones your doctor asked.

Most urologists will have you complete a confidential sexual questionnaire, which will focus in on sexual functioning. This will provide the urologist with information as to where the ED investigation should lead. The questionnaire will be reviewed by you and the urologist, and also track your progress and outcomes, as well. You will be asked questions about your health and undergo a physical exam. Based on the exam findings, you may have to undergo further studies, such as blood work, an ultrasound, or sleep studies, for example. 

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