Men who suspect they may have erectile dysfunction (ED) may use an erection self-test to confirm their symptoms or determine the severity of their issues.
What is an Erection Self-Test?
An erection self-test is a test performed by a man to determine the presence and/or severity of erectile problems. This test is also called the NPT (Nocturnal Penile Tumescence) stamp test. Before having the test, it is important to ensure that you have not had alcohol or sedatives for up to two days prior to the test.
How Is an Erection Self-Test Performed?
A strip of stamps is the main object used in an erection test. These stamps are carefully wrapped around the penis before sleep, and the man should ensure that he is wearing shorts for the night. In the morning, the stamps are checked to see if they broke along perforated lines. This helps tell if the man has had an erection during the night. A normal man usually has three to five erections as he sleeps, each lasting from thirty minutes to an hour long.
Men may wake up at night as the stamp tears away. If this happens, it is important to check how rigid the erection is. This test is typically performed for three consecutive nights during which the man should have a peaceful, uninterrupted sleep.
It is important to ensure that men sleep on their back when they are undergoing an erection self-test to avoid tampering or ripping the stamp during sleep. If a man wakes up to find the strip of stamps broken, it could indicate that his penis is functioning well physically and the erectile problems could be psychological.
Are There Other Tests?
The stamp test may not provide the most accurate results, and is also accompanied with some problems. There are tests that can be done using advanced equipment that are able to exactly measure the blood flow to your penis and the rigidity of erections. Such tests include:
1. RigiScan Test
This test uses a portable device to assess the quality of erections during sleep. The device is strapped around the thigh and then two loops are fixed around the penis, with one at the base of the penis and the other below the corona.
As a man sleeps, the device records the amount of blood in his penis. The device then stores this as recorded data for the doctor to review later. The test is done for a few consecutive days to achieve the best possible accuracy.
2. Penile Plethysmograph Test
This test is a bit different, because it is not done during sleep. Patients who undergo this test are exposed to sexually-arousing materials either visually or through audio. As a man watches or listens, the response of his erection is then measured. This test also helps to determine whether an erectile dysfunction problem may be physical or psychological.
All the above tests help to tell if the condition is being caused by physical problems or psychological issues. If you are having normal erections at night, or you respond well to sexual material then you may be having psychological problems. However, if your responses are poor then you may be affected by a physical problem.
The Bottom Line
If you seem to have problems with your erections, it may be helpful to perform a self-test to see what the problem may be. However, patients should also express your concerns to their doctor as soon as possible so that he/she evaluates the situation and diagnoses the problem promptly.