The are many causes for erectile dysfunction, both physical and psychological, and it’s often difficult to identify the underlying problem. One of the primary indications of a physical problem is the lack of nocturnal erections.
Healthy men get 3-5 erections each night, each lasting about 30 minutes. Scientists believe that nocturnal erections are important to provide blood and oxygen to the penis, maintaining healthy tissues. Men with physical problems such as poor blood flow may not get nocturnal erections, which can then make the ED worse because the tissues in the penis atrophy.
There is a simple at-home test that can help determine if a man has erections at night.
How to perform the “Stamp Test”
The stamp test requires an old-fashioned roll of perforated postage stamps… the type that you lick to moisten the adhesive, not that kind that peel off a backing strip.
Before going to sleep, wrap a single band of postage stamps around to base of the penis. Overlap one stamp and moisten it to stick. Wear a pair of briefs to hold your penis in place so the band doesn’t slip off during the night.
In the morning, if the perforations are broken, it indicates that you have had an erection during the night. Repeat the test three nights in a row. If you don’t have an indication of a nighttime erection at least two nights, talk to your doctor.
If you can’t find perforated postage stamps, you can use a one-inch wide strip of facial tissue (Kleenex), held in pace with a bit of tape… but don’t wrap the tape all the way around the penis!
The stamp test is a good indicator, but it’s not a rigorous test. Your doctor may have you perform another test using a portable home device called a Rigiscan.
What to do if you don’t have nocturnal erections
A lack of nocturnal erections can damage the tissues in the penis, which may actually shrink over time. It’s possible to reverse this effect by increasing the blood flow in the penis using a vacuum pump for about ten minutes, twice a day.
More importantly, you should talk to your doctor. Erectile dysfunction and a lack of nocturnal erections are signs of a medical problem, which can sometimes be serious.