What Is an Erection
An erection self-test is a procedure a man can do by himself to
determine if the cause of his erectile dysfunction is physical or
It’s also known as the nocturnal penile
tumescence (NPT) stamp test.
Why Is an Erection
The test is done to confirm that you experience
erections at night. Men who have a normal physiological erectile function
experience an erection during normal sleep.
According to The University of California San Francisco Medical Center, the average
healthy pubescent male will have between three to five spontaneous erections a
night, lasting 30 to 60 minutes each.
Erectile dysfunction can be caused by
physical, emotional, or mental problems. This test helps determine if your
erectile dysfunction is caused by physical problems.
The test is considered outdated. There are a
variety of ways that the NPT test can be conducted. More reliable tests, such
as nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) testing using the RigiScan test, are now
A RigiScan is a portable home device used
to evaluate the quality of nocturnal penile erections. The portable
battery-powered unit is strapped around the thigh. It is equipped with two
loops that are connected to a direct-current torque motor. One loop goes around
the base of the penis while the other is placed below the corona, which is the
area of the penis before the glans penis. Throughout the night, the machine
repeatedly measures how much blood is in your penis (tumescence) and how well
it can resist bending or buckling (rigidity).
This test can be repeated several nights in a
row. The results from each night are stored on the machine so your doctor can
download and analyze it.
The Penile Plethysmograph is another
test that is sometimes used to distinguish between physical and psychological
ED. This device measures the erection of your penis as you view or listen to sexual
material. This can include viewing pictures, watching pornographic slides or
movies, or listening to sexually stimulating audiotapes. During the test,
penile cuffs are attached to a pulse volume recorder (plethysmograph) that
displays and records waves of blood to the penis.
These are just a few tests that are used in
place of the well-known stamp test and are often more accurate. It’s also
becoming increasingly difficult to find postage stamps (which are used in the
test) that aren’t already sticky on the back. The biggest benefit of this test
is that it allows you to test yourself if you’re embarrassed to discuss the
subject with your doctor.
How to Prepare for an
You will need to buy four to six postage
stamps. The denomination of the stamps does not matter, but they should have
dry glue on the back. Stamps are the most convenient option but there are other
alternatives. If you don’t have stamps, you can use a strip of paper. The strip
of paper should be 1 inch wide and long enough to go around the penis with a
little overlap. The paper can be secured with a 1-inch piece of tape.
Abstain from alcohol or any chemical sleep
aids for two nights before the test. These can prevent erections. You should
also avoid caffeine to make sure you have a good night’s sleep.
How an Erection Self-Test Is Performed
Change into briefs or boxer brief underwear
before you go to bed. Take enough stamps to circle the shaft of your penis.
Pull your flaccid penis through the fly in
your underwear. Moisten one of the stamps on the roll and wrap the stamps
around your penis. Overlap the stamps in the roll to ensure they’ll stay
securely in place. It should be snug enough so the stamps break apart if you
have an erection. Place your penis back inside your shorts and go to bed.
For best results, sleep on your back so the
stamps aren’t disturbed by your movement.
Do this three nights in a row.
Check to see if the roll of stamps is broken
when you wake up in the morning. You could have had an erection in your sleep
if the stamps are broken. This could indicate that your penis physically
There are no risks associated with an
an Erection Self-Test
Not breaking the roll of stamps in your sleep
could be an indication that your erectile dysfunction is caused by a physical
This test only indicates whether you’re
capable of having an erection. It won’t explain why you’re having problems
getting or maintaining an erection.
Failure to have an erection during sex may be
psychological in nature. You should make an appointment with your doctor if
you’re having problems getting or maintaining an erection. You may have a
psychological problem such as depression that is causing your ED. Your doctor can
screen you for depression or other psychological disorders and recommend you to
a mental health professional for treatment.
Talk to your doctor if you regularly
experience erectile dysfunction. Many men don’t feel comfortable talking about
the subject, but you shouldn’t feel embarrassed. This is a fairly common
condition, especially as you age.
Your doctor can help you confirm if your
erectile dysfunction is caused by physical or psychological reasons. Talk
therapy and pharmaceutical drugs are common treatments for erectile