An erection self-test is a procedure that a man can do on his own to determine the cause of sexual dysfunction (inability to achieve an erection). It's also referred to as the nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT).
Why perform an erection self-test?
According to a study conducted by the University of California, a healthy male will experience 3-5 spontaneous erections at night, each lasting about 30 minutes. However, this test is outdated and doesn't give an accurate measure of the blood flow to the genital region. Also, it doesn't show other factors of sexual dysfunction such as the duration and quality of erections at night. Therefore, it is recommended that you test with more advanced equipment like Penile Plethysmograph or a Rigiscan.
This is a diagnostic screening test that identifies whether the cause of ED is organic or psychogenic. A Rigiscan is a portable battery-powered unit that is wrapped around the thighs. It has two loops that connect to the motor. One loop is fixed around the base of the penis and the other one below the corona.
Once your asleep, the device will measure the amount of blood pumped around the penis and then records the data. Besides that, this machine will measure how well the penis can resist buckling (rigidity). To ensure you get the best possible results the test should be done for a couple of days.
Unlike the Rigiscan test, penile Plethysmograph is not done during sleep. This test is used to distinguish psychological and physical ED. It involves placing a pressure-sensitive device around the penis and then presenting the man to sexually arousing content. This could be sexual audiotapes or viewing of pornographic pictures and videos. Generally, the cuffs will measure the volume of blood that goes to the penis.
These two tests are more accurate and can be used instead of the stamp tests. They will determine whether your condition is psychological or physical. If your response is poor, then your ED is not caused by a physical problem. Also, these two tests are the best alternatives for men who don't want to discuss their ED with the doctor.
How to prepare for an erection test
You will need about 4-6 postage stamps with glue at the back. If you don't have stamps, a strip paper can be a good alternative. It should be about 1-inch wide, and strong enough to overlap on the base of the penis.
It is important the two days before the test, you avoid alcohol, sedatives, or sleep-inducing medication.
How to perform the test
Before the test is done, the man must wear shorts for the night. Since the main object used in the erection test is the strip, you should carefully wrap it around the penis. When you wake up in the morning, you will check whether the perforated lines broke or not. If the strip is broken, then the penis is functioning well. And if you continue experiencing erectile dysfunction, the problem could be psychological.
If the stamp doesn't break for three consecutive nights, your erectile problem could be related to physical conditions. This test should be done during the nights with uninterrupted sleep. Keep in mind that you may wake up at night as the stamp tears away. According to health experts, there's no risk associated with the erection self-test.
What to do after an erection self-test
While failing to break the perforation on stamps could be an indication of ED, you should not allow that interfere with your self-esteem. Sometimes, failure to attain an erection could be a result of depression. Also, you should not rush into making conclusions right away. The best approach is to make an appointment with your doctor. Depending on your case, he could recommend screening for depression or mental health treatment.
ED is a common problem for men, especially as they age. Therefore, you shouldn't feel embarrassed talking about this subject matter. If the doctor confirms that the condition is psychological, he or she may recommend a talk therapy or pharmaceutical drugs.
If you suspect you have an erectile dysfunction, a self-test can be helpful. When you perform any of the above tests, and you think you may have ED, you should consult your doctor for correct diagnosis. He or she will assess the situation and evaluate the best action to take. And remember, before you test for erectile dysfunction you should avoid taking sedatives or alcohol (two days prior to the test).