In the quest of understanding sex: meet Masters and Johnson

Recently, one of our friends advised us to watch a new TV show called Masters of Sex. Entertaining and featuring good actors, the best of this American show was the fact that it actually made us discover the interesting story of the Masters and Johnson research team. They started working together in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the Washington University in St Louis. Composed by Dr. William H. Masters (1915-2001) and research assistant, Virginia Johnson (1925-2013), the team (who also became a couple) was a pioneer in research regarding sexual responses and dysfunctions from 1957 to the early 1990s. In 1964, at a time where the will to understand human sexuality was still a taboo -even in the medical world-, the team created the Reproductive Biology Research Foundation in order to independently study human sexuality and revolutionise medicine.

They were the first doctors to work on sexual activity in ageing persons and found out that there was absolutely no age limit for one to be sexually active. Regarding female sexuality, they proved that the clitoral and vaginal stimulation produced physiologically identical effects and thus that women were capable of having multi-orgasms. They were also revolutionaries in what regards the study of sexual dysfunctions. Although previously dysfunctions such as impotence or premature ejaculation were especially treated by psychoanalysis, the team provided a new approach, involving couples instead of treating the patients uniquely with personal therapy.

Although several doctors have criticised the Master and Johnson’s methodology and even refuted some of their findings, this team was certainly revolutionary as it open the door to an unprecedented field in medical studies.

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