Tests for Erection Problems
Doppler ultrasound (also
called color duplex Doppler) uses a handheld tool passed lightly over the
penis. The tool uses reflected sound waves to estimate the speed and direction
of blood as it flows through a blood vessel. The sound waves go to a computer
that changes the sounds to colors that are overlaid on a picture of the blood
vessel. This shows the speed and direction of blood flow. You may need to have medicine injected into your penis (intracavernosal injection) to cause an erection before the Doppler test is done.
The results of your tests may show which kind of treatment is a good choice for you.
- Erection Problems: Should I Try Injection Treatments?
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Decision Points focus on key medical care decisions that are important to many health problems.
Erection Problems: Should I Take Medicine?Erection Problems: Should I Try Injection Treatments?
Why It Is Done
Tests for erection problems are done
to help find whether the cause of an erection problem is physical,
psychological, or a combination of both.
Physical conditions that
may cause erection problems include:
- Problems with the nerves of the penis.
Conditions such as
multiple sclerosis or
diabetes may cause nerve damage that affects a man's
ability to have an erection. Also, surgery, injury, or radiation treatment to
the pelvic area may cause damage to the nerves of the
- Problems with the blood vessels that supply blood to the
penis . Conditions such as hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) may make it difficult for a man to
have an erection. Activities such as long-distance bicycle riding on a hard,
narrow saddle may increase a man's risk for having an erection problem.
- Low levels of hormones, such as
- Side effects of
medicines, such as medicines taken for
high blood pressure (hypertension) or
- The use of tobacco, alcohol,
Psychological tests may be needed if no physical cause is
found for an erection problem. Psychological causes of erection problems may
- Anxiety about sexual
- Depression or grief.
How To Prepare
Nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) test
Do not take
any medicines that cause an erection, such as sildenafil (for example, Viagra), tadalafil
(for example, Cialis), and vardenafil (for example, Levitra), before the test.
Do not drink
alcohol or take sleeping pills for 2 days before you have a nocturnal penile
tumescence (NPT) test. The alcohol and the pills can change your deep (REM)
sleep time, which can affect nocturnal erections.
Intracavernosal injection test
If you are having
an intracavernosal injection test, tell your doctor if you:
- Are allergic to any
- Have any bleeding problems or are taking blood-thinning
medicine, such as aspirin or other
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs),
warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or ticlopidine
- Have ever had an erection lasting more than 3 hours
You may be asked to avoid
products that contain nicotine (cigarettes, chewing tobacco) for 30 minutes to
2 hours before the test.