On call: Testing for erectile dysfunction

On call

Testing for erectile dysfunction

Q. When I saw my doctor on my 73rd birthday, my only complaint was that I've been having trouble with my erections over the past year. I was surprised that my doctor didn't do any blood tests beyond the usual battery, and he didn't refer me to a specialist. Instead, he gave me a prescription for Viagra. The pills are working fine, but should I have tests to find out what's wrong?

A. In a sense, Viagra's success is responsible for the brevity of your evaluation. Sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra), and tadalafil (Cialis) all produce good results in about 70% of men, so it's easy to see why many doctors skip the tests and go straight to treatment. Still, an evaluation is important.

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