Erectile Dysfunction Risk Factors, Symptoms & Diagnosis

Risk Factors of Erectile Dysfunction

- Injury to the pelvic area
- Medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, peripheral artery diseases, hypertension 
- Prostate, colon, rectum, or bladder surgery 
- Alcohol, nicotine, and recreational drug use
- Certain medications 
- Mental health conditions such as anxiety (including OCD) and depression

Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction

- Difficulty in getting an erection
- Difficulty in maintaining an erection 
- Getting a partial erection, not firm/hard enough for vaginal penetration 
- Reduced libido or sexual desire
- Increased anxiety and stress associated with sexual intercourse

The severity of ED is determined by how hard the penis is when aroused. Based on this, there are ways to describe the hardness of the penis.
Severe ED: Penis is not hard.
Moderate ED: Penis is hard, but not hard enough for penetrative sex.
Mild ED: Penis is hard enough for penetrative sex, but not rigid.
No ED: Penis is hard and rigid enough for penetrative sex.

Low Sexual Desire

Low sexual desire or libido is a common symptom of erectile dysfunction. Is also often associated with interpersonal concerns within relationships, increased stress, or sexual dysfunction.

However, everyone's sexual desire levels can vary because of the many dependent factors. There is no ballpark level for sexual desire. Professionals approach the symptom of low sexual desire by determining the cause behind it and prescribing appropriate therapy which can include medications and/or therapy depending on if the cause is physical or psychological.

Causes of Low Sexual Desire

- Loss or lack of sexual attraction  
- Conflict and interpersonal issues with partner
- Lack of communication and trust 
- Physical problems such as medical conditions or medication-related side effects
- Psychological problems such as depression or anxiety

Diagnosing Erectile Dysfunction

Diagnosing ED may require a physical and/or a psychological examination along with medical history taking.

Not all cases require a physical examination. The process of undergoing diagnostic tests and imaging helps a professional determine the cause behind the patient’s ED along with ruling out any underlying medical conditions.

Here’s what the diagnostic process for ED may entail (not every patient with ED needs all the following tests; it is decided on a case by case basis):

- Physical examination of external penis anatomy
- Blood tests/hormone levels check: to rule out medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease along with checking testosterone levels.
- Urinalysis: can detect certain underlying medical conditions
- Psychological examination: to rule out or treat mental health conditions such as depression, and/or anxiety
- Ultrasound of the penis and testicles to check for blood flow issues or any other problems