Tests for Erection Problems
Tests for erection problems can help find a
cause for a man's problem in having or maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction, or impotence). Erectile
dysfunction is a common male problem. Most erection problems are caused by a
combination of blood vessel, nerve, or psychological issues.
find the cause of erection problems, your doctor will first ask about your
sexual history and do a
physical exam. During the physical exam, the doctor
Other tests that may be done as part of a physical exam
If the results of your physical exam and other tests are
normal, your doctor may have you try a medicine, such as sildenafil
(for example, Viagra), tadalafil (for example, Cialis), or vardenafil (for example, Levitra), before doing more
This topic focuses on three more tests you may have after
the physical exam and lab tests listed above. These three specific tests used
to find the cause of erection problems are:
- Nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT)
- Intracavernosal injection test.
Nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) test
test checks whether a man is having normal erections during sleep. Most men
have 3 to 5 full erections during deep (rapid eye movement, or REM) sleep. Men
who do not have erections because of psychological problems can still have
erections during deep sleep. Occasionally, some sleep problems or serious
depression can prevent these normal nighttime (nocturnal) erections.
This test can be done at home or in a special sleep lab. One of two ways
may be used.
- A simple ringlike device called a snap gauge
made up of plastic films is fitted around the penis. The films break at certain
pressures. So an erection during sleep will cause the film to
- An electronic monitoring device records how many, how long, and how
rigid the erections are during sleep. An electronic monitoring device is more expensive than using
the snap gauge, but it is more accurate and gives more detailed information
about erections during sleep.