Erectile dysfunction doctor: which physicians treat ED?

Reviewed by Yael Cooperman, MD, Ro, 

Written by Haley Longman 

Reviewed by Yael Cooperman, MD, Ro, 

Written by Haley Longman 

last updated: Mar 01, 2024

6 min read

Key takeaways

  • Many different types of doctors can treat erectile dysfunction. If you’re regularly experiencing symptoms, visit your primary care provider, who can run some tests and make a referral to a specialist if needed.

  • Depending on the specific cause of ED, specialists who treat ED include urologists, endocrinologists, cardiologists, and internal medicine specialists, among others.

  • No matter which type of erectile dysfunction doctor you see, there are plenty of treatment options for ED, and safe and effective treatments are available.

A common issue many men face, especially as they get older, is erectile dysfunction. The main symptom of ED is trouble getting or maintaining an erection long enough for satisfying penetrative sex, which can mean missing out on a satisfying sex life. Many erectile dysfunction doctors commonly treat patients with ED and help manage frustrating symptoms, so those with ED—estimated to affect about 30 million men at some point in their lives— shouldn’t suffer in silence or be embarrassed about the condition. 

There isn’t one sole type of practitioner who treats ED, but a good first step is a primary care practitioner (PCP). They can provide guidance on where to start and make a referral to a specialist if needed.

Here’s how to figure out which doctor to see to treat ED, as well as options for treatment.

Erectile dysfunction

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Doctors who treat erectile dysfunction 

ED is typically a lifelong condition, one for which there isn’t a quick fix or cure. However, while ED will probably not go away entirely, there is a range of safe and effective treatment options that can help you get an erection when you want one.

General practitioners

General practitioners, also known as primary care physicians or family doctors, are trained to treat and diagnose a variety of health issues and conditions, ED among them. Your PCP should be your first step when looking for doctors who treat erectile dysfunction. 

They likely will perform a physical exam, run blood work, and ask questions about your medical history as part of the Sexual Health Inventory for Men (SHIM) questionnaire, which helps determine symptoms (and severity) of ED. The doctor will use all that information to potentially diagnose the condition and determine if they’ll prescribe treatment themselves or refer you to a specialist for ED. Typically, the first line of treatment for ED is oral pills such as Viagra or Cialis and PCPs are able to prescribe this medication.

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Cialis Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.

Online doctors

Sometimes it can be uncomfortable to chat about things like ED in person with the provider you see annually (or maybe even more often than that). An alternative and more discreet option is to connect with a healthcare provider online for erectile dysfunction.

Ro’s telehealth service for men, Roman, treats men’s sexual health, hair loss, and other everyday health concerns. The process for ED treatment specifically involves a brief virtual questionnaire about potential ED symptoms, which is reviewed by a licensed healthcare provider who can determine if treatment is right for you. If prescribed, medication for ED will be delivered at home in just a few days.


ED is typically caused by disrupted blood flow in the blood vessels of the penis, which can be the result of an underlying condition such as diabetes, overweight, or heart disease. Hormonal disruptions, among other things, can also contribute. If your PCP thinks a patient requires additional testing or a follow-up, or they haven’t uncovered the root of the issue, the patient will likely be referred to a specialist who treats erectile dysfunction. There is no one type of practitioner who handles ED. However, many specialists—each of whom goes through additional training in a specific area of medicine—can treat symptoms of ED and other men’s sexual health concerns, depending on the cause of the disease.

What types of specialists treat erectile dysfunction? 


A urologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the male and female urinary tracts, as well as in male reproductive organs. Much like a PCP, a urologist will take a medical and sexual history, perform a physical exam, and run lab work that can potentially pinpoint the causes of ED. Causes can be hormonal, psychological, lifestyle-related, or a result of certain health conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, or kidney disease, to name a few.


An endocrinologist treats the endocrine system, which is the system through which the body’s hormones function. If previous testing reveals the cause of ED to be hormonal, an endocrinologist could be the most appropriate specialist to follow up with. Many studies show a correlation between decreased testosterone levels and ED, as well as a correlation between diabetes and ED. In fact, diabetic men are three times more likely than their non-diabetic counterparts to experience erectile dysfunction. An endocrinologist can help get your out-of-whack hormones back under control, which could then alleviate ED symptoms.


Studies have shown that cardiovascular disease is a definite risk factor for ED. Part of the reason for this, according to research, is the coronary arteries and the penile arteries are similar in size and tend to similarly develop plaque build-up (and plaque build-up in the penis is a cause of ED and other urological issues in men). Essentially, ample blood flow throughout the body is needed both for a healthy heart and for an erection.

Sufferers of ED may be referred to a cardiologist, who will screen for cardiovascular disease, including hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, and atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries).

Mental health professional

For many men with ED, problems in the bedroom are caused not by a physical issue but rather a psychological one. In such cases, a mental health professional such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or licensed therapist would be the most logical next step in treating ED. There’s evidence that psychological factors such as personality, depression, stress, and persistent thoughts such as performance anxiety contribute to erectile problems.

Additionally, chronic stress and mental health diagnoses such as depression contribute to elevated cortisol levels, which can cause issues with getting hard.

Various types of therapy could potentially help with ED that are caused by psychological issues, including talk therapy, sex therapy, and couples therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in particular, has been shown to be effective in treating men under the age of 40 who suffer from ED. Shockwave therapy, which uses sound waves to “shock” the penis and encourage blood flow to the penile tissue, has recently been shown to improve ED as well, but it’s still considered an experimental treatment. 

Medication, prescribed in conjunction with traditional talk therapy, may be the solution too. 

How to choose the right doctor for erectile dysfunction 

Fortunately, you don’t need to figure out on your own which doctor is the best one to treat ED. Because causes of impotence vary greatly, there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment plan for every guy who has it. Your primary care physician can do the initial workup and, if needed, refer you to a specialist depending on what testing reveals.

Questions to ask before you start erectile dysfunction treatment 

It may seem awkward to talk to your provider about an ailment as personal as erectile dysfunction, but truthfully, doctors have seen and heard it all! Before your appointment, try to keep a log of your symptoms so you’re well prepared for some of the questions he or she will ask you.

At your appointment, come armed with a few questions you’ll ask them before undergoing treatment for erectile dysfunction:

  • What exactly is ED?

  • What’s causing my ED?

  • What tests will I need?

  • Is ED a chronic condition?

  • Will ED get worse as I get older?

  • Is my ED caused by psychological or physical issues (or both)?

  • Will I need oral medication to treat it?

  • What other treatment options might we consider?

  • How soon will I see an improvement in symptoms?

  • What’s the next step?

Treatment options for erectile dysfunction 

For some men with ED, lifestyle changes may do the trick in curing symptoms; a physician may recommend that a patient with ED quit smoking, limit alcohol use, work out more often, consume a healthier diet, or stop taking certain medications that could be making ED worse

If the issue is psychological, a therapist might suggest talk therapy as the first treatment option. But if none of these modifications do the trick, there are other ways to treat impotence too:

Oral medications to treat ED

The first line of treatment is traditional prescription ED meds prescribed by a healthcare provider. These medications are safe and effective and work for most people with erectile dysfunction. These oral medications include:

This class of drugs called PDE5 inhibitors works by keeping the blood vessels in the penis open and allowing more blood to flow in, promoting harder, longer-lasting erections.

You can get a prescription for these FDA-approved oral meds either from your in-person doctor or online through Ro, which is both a safe and discreet option.

Other treatments for ED

When ED pills aren’t working or otherwise can’t be taken because of other underlying health conditions such as heart disease (that’s where the cardiologist would come in!), the next line of treatment is typically ED injections, which are meds injected in liquid form directly into the penis. They work by relaxing the smooth muscles and increasing blood flow to the penis.

Prostaglandin E1 (PGE1)—also known as alprostadil (or by its brand names Caverject and Edex)—is the most commonly used ED injection medication. PGE1 is FDA-approved for use alone, but it’s also commonly combined with two other medications: papaverine and phentolamine. TriMix, for example, combines all three of these meds and is one option for treating ED.

Another more extreme option when all else fails is a penis pump, also known as a vacuum constriction device (VCD) or a vacuum erection device (VED). This works by using suction to draw blood into the penis and make it hard. 

When should I see a doctor for erectile dysfunction?

You don’t necessarily need to seek medical care for ED if you have trouble getting an erection once or twice. However, if you are having trouble getting and staying hard regularly, it’s becoming bothersome, or it’s affecting your well-being or relationships, it’s probably time to get checked out.

Outlook for treatment of erectile dysfunction

The good news is men with erectile dysfunction don’t need to surrender to a lifetime of bad sex. Generally speaking, the prognosis for ED is excellent. Even if the specific medical cause of your ED can’t be fully cured, it can still be managed through treatment. 

The first step in treating ED is seeking help; find a qualified physician who can run tests and help you uncover the cause of your ED. From there, you and your doctor will come up with a treatment plan that may include lifestyle changes, therapy, pills, or other more invasive (and less commonly used) ED treatments. Rest assured that ED can be managed, and once it is, you’ll restore your sexual function and return to a fun, satisfying sex life.


If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

How we reviewed this article

Every article on Health Guide goes through rigorous fact-checking by our team of medical reviewers. Our reviewers are trained medical professionals who ensure each article contains the most up-to-date information, and that medical details have been correctly interpreted by the writer.

Current version

March 01, 2024

Written by

Haley Longman

Fact checked by

Yael Cooperman, MD

About the medical reviewer

Yael Cooperman is a physician and works as a Senior Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.

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