Erectile Dysfunction Treatments – Are They Really Effective?

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Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a medical condition that affects men of all ages. ED affects a man’s ability to achieve and maintain an erection for sexual intercourse. More often than not, this causes extreme frustration and stress, especially if the ED occurs over a prolonged period of time. Fortunately, ED is treatable through the use of medications, lifestyle changes and other alternative forms of treatment.

If you are struggling to achieve or maintain an erection on a regular basis, consider speaking to a healthcare professional. A healthcare professional is most qualified to determine if you are indeed suffering from ED or not, and its root causes. Alternatively, you may also perform an erection self-test at home to determine if you have ED. In that regard, here are some of the most common tests for ED, explained.

Understanding the primary causes of ED

ED is primarily caused by a restriction of blood flow to the penis. This restriction of blood flow can stem from a number of different underlying health disorders. These health disorders include cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure or stroke, and diabetes. The most effective method for diagnosing ED and its root causes is to talk to a healthcare professional. They will ask about your symptoms and perform some physical tests. 

The objective of these tests is to identify the possible physical factors contributing to your ED. Some examples of physical causes include high blood pressure, high blood glucose levels or other issues that affect your blood circulation. 

What exactly is an NPT test, and how does it work?

Alternatively, you can also choose to conduct an erection self-test, known as the nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) test, at home. An NPT test should only be used as a basic guide, and not as an actual diagnosis. This is because the test will not give a definitive confirmation as to whether or not you have ED. Additionally, the NPT test cannot help you to identify the root causes of your ED.


To perform the NPT test, you’ll need to set aside a strip of four to six postage stamps. Before performing the test, please abstain from alcohol or any sleep-inducing medications for at least 48 hours. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to conduct the NPT test:

  • Step 1: Carefully place your penis through your fly or gently above your waistband.
  • Step 2: Wrap a strip of postage stamps snugly around the shaft of your penis. Try not include any pubic hair, as it can reduce the effectiveness of the adhesive.
  • Step 3: Wrap the strip around your penis with the first and last stamps of the strip overlapping. Seal the strip together by moistening the last stamp and sticking it to the first stamp.
  • Step 4: Once the adhesive on the overlapping stamps dry, carefully place your penis back in your underwear.

For best results, it is advised that you repeat this test for three nights of uninterrupted sleep. If you get an erection on any of these three nights, you will notice a tear along the perforated area of each stamp in the strip. 

However, if the strip doesn’t appear torn on any of the three nights, it might mean that your ED is caused by a physical risk factor, such as an underlying medical condition or the side effect of a medication you are taking. In this case, it is advisable to seek the consultation of a healthcare professional before deciding your next course of action. 

What tests can a healthcare professional perform to test for ED?

A healthcare professional may ask you to undergo a number of different physical tests to determine the cause of your ED. These tests are typically performed in a clinical setting and are relatively different from a self-test. 

These tests may include:


A blood test can provide you with a much clearer idea as to whether your ED is being caused by an underlying health issue. If you are a victim of ED, it is possible that you have a hormonal deficiency, a cardiovascular health issue, or a liver and kidney functioning problem. All of these are physical risk factors for ED.  


A urine test is similar to a blood test in that it can reveal vital information about your hormone levels, kidney function and other risk factors for ED. It also provides you with information as to whether you might be suffering from diabetes, a chronic disease requiring immediate treatment. 


A duplex ultrasound test, on the other hand, determines the efficiency of blood flow through your veins and arteries. It can also reveal if you have scar tissue, hardened arteries and other physical factors that might be contributing to your ED.


Interestingly, a healthcare professional may also check for nerve stimulation in your penis by using a bulbocavernosus reflex test. This test is usually recommended by a healthcare professional who suspects that an individual’s ED is linked to abnormal nerve function. Relatably, a healthcare professional may also ask you to undergo a penile biothesiometry test. This test will help you identify if nerve sensitivity and function in your penis is the problem. 


Victims of ED may also undergo cavernosography and dynamic infusion cavernosometry. These two tests help to determine the location of a venous leak (loss of blood from erectile tissue). They tend, however, to be less commonly used than the other tests listed above.

Once a healthcare professional successfully identifies the cause of your ED, a treatment plan will be developed for you. This plan may include the use of PDE5 inhibitors – tadalafil (brand name Cialis®) or sildenafil (brand name Viagra®). In more severe cases, invasive treatment options like a surgical procedure may be suggested. At the same time, underlying health problems may be identified that you will need to seek treatment for before they become more severe. Remember, always put yourself first!

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