How to Know if Erectile Dysfunction is Physical or Psychological?

Aastha Kapoor   by Aastha Kapoor, MS, Biotechnology    Last updated on October 10, 2018,

erectile dysfunction is physical or psychological

 

Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is defined as the inability to get or maintain a firm erection during a sexual act. It is one of the common sexual problems which affects nearly 30 million men in the United States.

Erectile dysfunction occurs due to certain physical or psychological causes. Mostly, it occurs due to a physical cause, such as a heart diseases, diabetes, and obesity. Age also significantly increases the risk of ED. Certain lifestyle choices such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to ED. About 20% of the ED cases are due to a psychological cause.

It becomes extremely troublesome for a patient to identify whether erectile dysfunction has occurred due to a physical cause or some psychological reason.

How to know if erectile dysfunction is physical or psychological?

If you experience symptoms of erectile dysfunction, you can either perform a self-test at home to identify its underlying cause or consult a doctor.

Self-test for erectile dysfunction

Normally, during sleep, a man usually erects at least once. This is known as nocturnal penile tumescence. It is considered as a normal process, once a boy attains puberty. If you face any problem while erecting when you are conscious, try observing your erection while you are unconscious.

As you age, the process of nocturnal penile tumescence starts decreasing. This may be normal; there is nothing to worry about it. 

You can test your erection while you are fast asleep by using a roll of stamps. You can affix a ring of stamps around the base of your penis; make sure that the ring is not broken. Set up this ring before going to sleep at night.


When you wake up in the morning, check the ring. If it’s broken, then it means you had an erection while you were unconscious. This indicates that erectile dysfunction has occurred due to a mental issue, i.e., you suffer with psychological erectile dysfunction. But if the ring is not broken, then you did not have an erection last night while you were sleeping. This indicates that your erectile dysfunction has occurred due to a physical cause.

If stamps are not easily available, you can perform this experiment using a thin and narrow piece of tissue paper available at your home. Place this piece of paper around your flaccid penis with the help of scotch tape at night. When you check the paper in the morning, if it is broken, then you had an erection. If the tissue paper is not broken, then you did not have an erection last night.

You can also try observing masturbation when you are alone. If you get aroused when you are alone and not with your partner, then the erectile dysfunctional is completely psychological. One of the psychological causes, such as depression, stress, anxiety or relationship problem, can make it difficult to erect with your partner.

Once you conduct this test, you will be able to identify your cause of ED and can easily take necessary steps to cure it. The physical and psychological causes behind erectile dysfunction allows us to decide which treatment will be suitable for you and which type of healthcare expert you should consult for the treatment.

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Medical test for erectile dysfunction

Most common cause of erectile dysfunction is one of the physical problems. You can rule out the possibility of suffering from a physical erectile dysfunction, by checking if you have diabetes, a heart disease or if you are obese.

The best and accurate way to identify the cause of erectile dysfunction is by consulting a doctor. He will ask about your symptoms and perform a blood test to rule out the likelihood of any physical cause. He may carry out a physical examination and recommend a postage stamp test. He can also advice a poten test or a snap-gauge test for analyzing the reason behind your impotence.