Depending on which way you look at it, erectile dysfunction in itself does not need diagnosing at all since it is usually a symptom of an underlying condition. As such, it is the underlying cause that is diagnosed and not ED. In other circumstances, it often is unnecessary to diagnose the fundamental cause of the impotence, since most treatments will be the same in any case. However, there are an array of tests and methods that exist to handle both situations.
The ability of human males to achieve erection depends on a number of interrelated factors. Although arousal is basic, it still has two components which are physical and mental. A breakdown in either can lead to erectile dysfunction which means that doctors will often focus on both when diagnosing the problem.
The physical factors that interfere with normal erection are diverse and many. Diagnostic tests will therefore look for such things as cardiovascular and neurological issues. Damage to the blood vessels that feed the pelvis are one common problem as is weakness in the nerve signals that stimulate erection. Endocrine tests to check hormone levels are a common diagnostic procedure.
Cavernosometry is a common test employed, since it measures penile vascular pressure. About seven times the usual amount of blood flows into the spongy tissue in the penis during erection and anything which blocks that process can lead to erectile dysfunction. During the test a dye is injected into the blood vessels to observe blood flow into and out of the penis.
Neurological tests can cover a wide range. Less commonly, spinal cord injuries or brain tumors may interfere with normal function. In the usual instance, insensitivity in the nerves more directly related to the genitals is checked for. Trauma, certain drugs or medications, and other issues may be the underlying cause.
Since there are a substantial number of diseases, some quite common, that can result in erectile dysfunction, physicians will test for those if the patient displays other symptoms. Diabetes, for example, is becoming increasingly common and at ever younger ages as the population grows more obese on average. Simple blood sugar tests can reveal it.
In some cases, the doctor may forgo some of the available expensive, painful or inconvenient tests because the cause is either fairly obvious or the treatment may be the same regardless.
When a man has had prostate cancer surgery, and subsequently shortly thereafter complains of erectile dysfunction, some doctors will simply skip the tests. Similarly, if a person reveals a history of drug use or chronic, high alcohol consumption there may be little reason to look further. Some physicians believe it is pointless to endure the trouble and expense of tests when the cause is so tragically evident.
Also, when the treatment is the same, further diagnosis may be unwarranted. Whether that treatment is simply time or a prescription of Viagra, if all likely causes suggest the same treatment, further diagnosis is often unnecessary.