Diagnosing Impotence

Men who experience bouts with impotence may be hesitant to seek medical advice, even though erectile dysfunction disorder is a fairly common problem that many men face as they get older. The diagnosis of impotence is also a fairly simple affair. The process of medical diagnosis usually involves a physical examination, laboratory tests, and in more complex cases, more comprehensive tests that may involve monitoring.

The physical examination part of the diagnosis process involves looking for symptoms that may indicate a systemic problem. A common part of the physical examination is to examine the penis closely and observe to see if it reacts as expected to touching. Sometimes impotence may be caused by difficulties or irregularities of the nervous system, and a physical examination may yield some of the first clues that this may be the source of the problem. Health professionals will also look for irregular or abnormal secondary sex characteristics. These may include strange hair patterns or abnormal growth patterns. These may indicate that the problem is hormonal in nature. Another cause of impotence is related to problems of the circulatory system. A physical examination may yield hints that point to circulatory problems, such as aneurysm in part of the body that may be inhibiting normal blood flow. In more rare circumstances, the penis will be examined for unusual characteristics that can point to a less common condition such as Peyronie's disease, which is characterized by a bending of the penis.

Laboratory tests are also an important part of diagnosing impotence. There are several tests that doctors use to make the correct diagnosis. Most doctors will begin by taking laboratory tests that can help detect any systemic disease that may be present. Such laboratory tests include blood count tests, urine analysis, measurements of liver enzymes and creatinine, and lipid profile. If the patient reports a low level of sexual interest and desire, the doctor will probably perform a measurement of the patient's testosterone. This information may provide doctor and patient with information about possible problems with the patient's endocrine system.

If a physical examination or laboratory tests do not yield enough conclusive information to make a firm diagnosis, the doctor may order other test. One of the most common of these involves overnight monitoring of the patient. This is to determine whether the patient is capable of sustaining overnight nocturnal penile tumescence, otherwise known as night erections. Most healthy men experience involuntary erections while sleeping. If the patient does not experience nocturnal erections, than the cause of impotence can be more than likely attributed to physical factors. This type of monitoring can help rule out psychological factors that may be causing the patient's impotence. Another type of examination that may be administered is psychosocial in nature. This means that the examination involves an examination of the patient's psychological state to see if the patient's impotence is being caused by stress, anxiety, depression, or other psychological or environmental factors.

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