Health A-Z

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Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask you about your medical history. He or she will want to learn if any medical conditions might be causing the impotence. These may include vascular, neurological and hormonal disorders.

Vascular disorders affect the entire body. Many men who have impotence because of vascular disease also have a history of heart disease, stroke or poor circulation in their legs.

Neurological problems can contribute to impotence in men with a history of diabetes and spinal cord injury. They also can cause symptoms in other parts of the body.

In men with abnormal hormone levels, a reduced sex drive often accompanies impotence.

Your doctor will review the medications you take. These include over-the-counter products and herbal remedies.

Your doctor will ask about your sex life. He or she will ask about the quality of your sexual relationships.

Your doctor will examine you to look for evidence of medical problems. This will include an examination of your penis and testes. Your blood may be tested for blood sugar, cholesterol and levels of certain hormones.

Occasionally, a doctor may order additional tests. One such test is a nocturnal penile tumescence study. This is a way to determine how often you get erections while you sleep.

Another test that may be done is a Doppler ultrasound of the blood vessels in the penis. This test measures how well the blood is flowing in your penis.

Your doctor may not be able to give you a specific reason why you have impotence. But many of the treatments work well no matter what caused the problem. So extensive testing may not be necessary.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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