This test checks for the occurrence of nighttime erections, and helps to determine the cause of erectile dysfunction in men. The ability to have an erection while sleeping indicates that a man is physically capable of this function. If a man cannot have an erection while awake, the cause may be due to physical problems, psychological factors, or both. For most men, erections while sleeping are the result of physical processes in the body rather than conscious control. The outcome of this test will help determine the cause of erectile dysfunction, as well as the best treatment options.
Men who are unable to achieve an erection may be asked to perform this test as part of a work-up for erectile dysfunction.
The test is done at home on three consecutive nights. One cent stamps are bought in a roll. At bed time a string of several of these are wrapped around the mid shaft of the penis. They are moistened and allowed to form a continuous ring around this portion of the penis. In the morning, the man checks to see if the strip of stamps is broken. If so, this indicates that the shaft of the penis swelled and hardened over night. If the stamps remain unbroken, no nocturnal erection occurred.
The man should request specific instructions on how to prepare for this test from his healthcare provider.
Normally, the ring of stamps is broken. This indicates that a nocturnal erection has occurred. If the ring of stamps is not broken, then no erection has occurred. This inability to achieve an erection at night may be due to physical causes rather than psychological.