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Diagnosing impotence is done after the healthcare provider asks a number of questions, performs a physical exam, and reviews the results of certain tests. When diagnosing impotence, the healthcare provider may also order a psychosocial examination (which uses an interview and a questionnaire) to reveal any psychological factors that might be contributing to the condition.

Diagnosing Impotence: An Overview

Talking about impotence (also known as erectile dysfunction, or ED) can be difficult. You may prefer to use a phrase like, "I've been having problems in the bedroom" or "I've been having erection problems." Remember that a healthy sex life is part of a healthy life overall. Don't feel embarrassed about seeking help. Impotence is a medical problem, and your doctor treats medical problems every day.
If the discussion with your doctor doesn't put you at ease, you can ask for a referral to another doctor.
Your doctor may refer you to a urologist -- a doctor who specializes in sexual and urologic problems.
Your partner may want to come with you to see the doctor. Many doctors say impotence is easier to treat when both partners are involved.
To find the cause of your impotence, your doctor will take a complete medical history and do a physical examination. He or she may also order some additional tests to help in diagnosing impotence.

Diagnosing Impotence Through the Medical History

In taking your medical history, the doctor will ask general questions about your health, as well as specific questions about your erection problems and your relationship with your partner. Bring a list of all the medications you take or bring the actual medications with you to show your doctor. Tell your doctor about any surgeries you have had.
Your doctor will also ask about your lifestyle habits, such as:
  • Alcohol use
  • Smoking
  • Exercise.
Your doctor might ask you additional questions, including:
  • How do you rate your confidence that you can get and keep an erection?
  • When you have erections with sexual stimulation, how often are your erections hard enough for penetration?
  • During sexual intercourse, how often are you able to maintain your erection after you have penetrated (entered) your partner?
  • When you attempt sexual intercourse, how often is it satisfactory for you?
  • How would you rate your level of sexual desire?
  • How often are you able to reach climax and have an ejaculation?
  • Do you have an erection when you wake up in the morning?
The answers to these questions will help your doctor better understand the problem.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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