Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects more than thirty million Americans every year. ED, or impotence, is when a person struggles to have their penis become erect or to maintain a firm erection.
The majority of erectile dysfunction specialists are urologists, doctors who specialize in the kidneys, urinary bladder, adrenal glands, urethra, and male reproductive organs. A smaller percentage are endocrinologists, doctors who specialize in hormonal systems.
What Does an Erectile Dysfunction Specialist Do?
Erectile dysfunction specialists look for the reasons why someone may have impotence. They recommend treatments for ED and monitor the effectiveness and side effects of the treatment. Many people with ED require more than one treatment to resolve the problem.
Education and Training
Erectile dysfunction specialists are medical doctors who have specifically trained in the fields of urology or endocrinology, with a focus on erectile dysfunction and related problems. Urologists are trained to perform minor and major surgeries. Like most physicians, these doctors go through medical school and residency to receive their certification.
This process involves completing:
- An average of four years in medical school
- A five-year residency during which the physician focuses on general surgery, clinical urology, and other disciplines relevant to urology
- A fellowship in andrology/male reproductive health
Reasons to See an Erectile Dysfunction Specialist
Impotence is common and highly treatable. You should consider a visit an erectile dysfunction specialist if you have one or more of the following:
- A recurring inability to have an erection
- A recurring inability to maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual activity
- The total inability to have an erection
- A persistent reduction in sex drive
What to Expect at Your Erectile Dysfunction Specialist Appointment
The first step will likely focus on a discussion with your erectile dysfunction specialist. The doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. You can expect to answer questions about the quality, frequency, and duration of your erections.
Your erectile dysfunction specialist might recommend tests including:
- Nocturnal penile tumescence testing, which evaluates the number and intensity of erections during sleep
- Doppler imaging
Your erectile dysfunction specialist may recommend various treatments. In most cases, it can be overcome or greatly improved.
Erectile dysfunction specialists sometimes recommend sex therapy, as issues like relationship problems, anxiety, and depression can contribute to impotence. Working with an impartial therapist can help improve these conditions.
Your erectile dysfunction specialist may also recommend a vacuum device, which can be used before sexual activity.
Surgery may also be an option. There are two relatively common surgical treatments for ED. One is penile implant surgery. During this procedure, erectile dysfunction specialists surgically implant a specialized device. A second surgical option is vascular surgery to repair blood vessel leaks in the penis.