It’s not easy for men to talk about problems in the bedroom. An inability to have sex with penetration can result in a stigma around being unable to perform. Worse, it might mean having difficulties in fathering a child.

But it can also be a sign of a dangerous underlying health condition. A blood test can reveal issues beyond problems attaining or sustaining an erection. Read through this article to learn why blood tests are important.

A blood test is a useful diagnostic tool for all sorts of conditions. Erectile dysfunction (ED) can be a sign of heart disease, diabetes mellitus, or low testosterone (low T), among other things.

All of these conditions can be serious but are treatable and should be addressed. A blood test can determine whether you have a high sugar (glucose) level, high cholesterol, or low testosterone.

In men with heart disease, the vessels that send blood to the penis can get clogged, just as other blood vessels can. Sometimes ED can be a marker of vascular dysfunction and atherosclerosis, which results in reduced blood flow in your arteries.

Complications of diabetes can also result in a lack of blood blow to the penis. In fact, ED can be an early sign of diabetes in men under 46 years old.

Heart disease and diabetes can cause ED, and this can be associated with low T. Low T also can be a sign of health conditions such as HIV or opioid abuse. Either way, low T can result in reduced sex drive, depression, and weight gain.

Diabetes and heart disease can become expensive to treat and even deadly when left unchecked. Proper diagnosis and treatment are necessary to avoid further complications.

You should talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing persistent ED or associated symptoms.

According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC), as many as 3 in 4 men with diabetes have ED.

More than 50 percent of men over age 40 had a difficult time achieving the firmness needed for penetration, according to the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. For male diabetes patients, erectile dysfunction can occur up to 15 years sooner than for nondiabetics, the NDIC reports.

You have a higher risk of developing ED if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, according to the Mayo Clinic. Both high blood pressure and high cholesterol can lead to heart disease.

The UCF reports that 30 percent of men with HIV and half of men with AIDS experience low T. Additionally, in one study, 75 percent of male chronic opioid users experienced low T.

Treating the underlying health condition is often the first step toward successfully treating ED. Individual causes of ED all have their own treatments. For instance, if a condition like anxiety or depression is causing ED, professional therapy may help.

Proper diet and exercise are essential for people with diabetes or heart disease. Medication can help to treat medical causes like high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Other methods are available to directly treat ED. Patches can administer hormone treatments for men with low T. Oral medications are available as well, including tadalafil (Cialis), sildenafil (Viagra), and vardenafil (Levitra).

Call your doctor for a checkup if you’re experiencing ED. And don’t be afraid to ask for the appropriate tests. Pinpointing and treating the underlying cause will help alleviate your ED and allow you to enjoy a healthy sex life once again.