This page is being served from the Urological Sciences Research Foundation web repository, and was originally posted between 1996-2008. In January 2009 USRF’s founder, Dr. Leonard S. Marks and his staff joined UCLA’s Department of Urology where they are continuing their research. Click for more information.

Joseph Hooper, writing in the August, 1998 magazine
Men's Journal (Health and Fitness: Sex Special: Beyond Viagra),
has given us the following
Sex Science Timeline
His chronology of important events in the history of sex research is clever,
reasonably accurate, and entertaining.


THE RISE - AND RISE - OF SEX SCIENCE
ANTIQUITY
The "law of similarity" is independently pioneered by sages of different cultures. The gist: Potency is best bolstered by ingesting foods that look like genitals, from the phallic rhino horn to the labial oyster.
INDIA
CIRCA 1000 B.C.
Ayurvedic medical texts recommend rock salt from a mine in Sindh as an effective sexual stimulant. The Kamasutra suggests potency can be restored by drinking a tonic of clarified butter, honey, sugar, milk, licorice, and bulb juice. Alternative suggestion: imbibing a ram testicle that's been boiled in milk.
GREECE
CIRCA 320 B.C.
The philosopher Theophrastus reports that a plant called satyrion allows a man to perform 70 consecutive acts of intercourse. No mention is made of whether this involves 70 different women. In any event, satyrion becomes extremely popular and is, alas, harvested to extinction.
GREECE
CIRCA 315 B.C.
Aristotle notes the presence of a baculum, or "littlestick," inside the penises of the fox and the wolf. These cartilaginous structures aid in penetration. Later observers find the same thing in whales, though at more than two yards long, these bacula can hardly be called littlesticks. Humans lack this structure.
CHINA
300 B.C.
Traditional healers declare cloves an effective potency restorer.
EGYPT
CIRCA 30 B.C.
Cleopatra dissolves pearls in vinegar and drinks the concoction; she credits the potion with her successful seduction of Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony. Asp venom proves less successful as an aphrodisiac.
ROME
CIRCA A.D. 50
Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder writes that ginger is an aphrodisiac when pounded into a paste and spread on the stomach, scrotum, and anus.
ROME
CIRCA A.D. 68
Massaging the genitals with asses' milk is said to restore virility. The effect is presumably enhanced if applied by attractive asses' milkmaids.
ENGLAND
CIRCA A.D. 1000
Burchard I, the bishop of Worms, describes the making of "love bread"; Naked women frolic in harvested wheat, which is then milled counterclockwise. A male who eats bread made from this flour is said to become sexually enthralled by the woman who serves it.
EUROPE
CIRCA 1350
Erections thought to be boosted by ingesting a mixture of dried black ants and olive oil. Other popular miracle cures; topical anointment of the penis and vulva with jackal bile; lubrication of the penis with melted fat from camel humps; the use of leeches that have been allowed to rot in a dunghill as a penile ointment; drinking concoctions containing crushed rubies, gold dust, whale vomit, and other precious materials.
ENGLAND
1605
In Macbeth, Shakespeare observes that alcohol "provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance". Miller Time is still nearly 400 years away.
PARIS
1659
The first shipment of cocoa from the tropics reaches France; Parisian doctors initially endorse it as a tonic but later wonder if it has "malevolent" aphrodisiac powers. Chocolate becomes a popular Valentine's Day gift.
EUROPE
1700s
Ground-up Spanish fly, a species of the blister beetle, becomes a notorious sex stimulant. Caustic chemicals in the bug's body trigger increased blood flow to the genitals but can also cause severe burns and occasionally death.
LONDON
1750
John Graham invents the celestial bed, said to arouse all who rest thereupon. The bed incorporates soft music, colorful lights, and incense to surround the sleeper with sensual stimuli. Graham gets rich charging by the night. Waterbed salesmen take note.
ITALY
1754
Italian lothario Casanova boosts his legendary sexual prowess by eating 48 oysters each morning, using a comely female breast as his plate.
1912
Sigmund Freud writes: "We must reckon with the possibility that something in the nature of the sexual instinct itself is unfavorable to the realization of complete satisfaction." The father of penis envy, the Oedipus complex, and latent homosexuality suggests that impotence, like most human foibles, is a neurotic response resulting from repressed conflicts.
EARLY TO
MID-1900s
Yohimbine, an extract from the bark of a tree found in west central Africa, gains popularity with veterinarians treating impotent stallions. Administration in humans earns mixed results, with many doctors concluding that any benefits are caused by the placebo effect.
1936
The first successful reconstruction of an amputated penis takes place; later, battlefield injuries during World War II provide surgeons with opportunities to refine the procedure. One technique involves the use of transplanted cartilage from a rib to forma makeshift littlestick.
1948
Alfred C. Kinsey publishes Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, following it five years later with Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. His findings both shock and enlighten the American public, busting such widely held myths as the inability of females to have orgasms and the pious notion that most couples engage in sex only for procreation. Kinsey's work as a sexual-research pioneer costs him much of his financial backing, leads to his divorce, and gets him thrown out of his church.
1952
Acrylic splints are used as a form of penile implant to help impotent men regain the ability to penetrate during intercourse.
1954
William Howell Masters begins scientifically researching sex; he's joined three years later by Virginia Eshelman Johnson. The two marry. Their collaboration leads to major discoveries in the physiology of orgasms and the use of sex-therapy techniques for treating impotence and premature ejaculation.
1964
The nearly simultaneous appearance of the Beatles and oral contraception inaugurates the Sexual Revolution.
1966
Though early penile-implant procedures appear to have a high success rate, surgeons are cautioned in the medical literature not to perform this operation on "neurotics" who will likely be dissatisfied with any result. Myths about the causes of impotence continue to reign. A few of the usual suspects cited in a 1966 medical journal: excessive masturbation, prolonged abstinence, coitus interruptus, monogamy monotony, homosexuality, and male menopause.
1967
Ads for penis enlargers employing vacuum-pump technology begin to appear in men's magazines. Famed English secret agent Austin "Danger" Powers authors self-help book in the subject, entitled Swedish-Made Penis-Enlarger Pumps and Me: This Sort of Thing is My Bag, Baby.
1969
Researchers discover that high levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin can inhibit sexual response in rats, while a chemical that blocks serotonin, PCPA, increases the rate at which male rats mount. Later, the scientists find this applies only to homosexual mountings - heterosexual-mounting rates appear unchanged.
1970
In their book, Human Sexual Inadequacy, Masters and Johnson declare that 90 percent of all impotence is caused by some form of psychological or emotional conflict.
EARLY 1970s
The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry reports that the drug anafranil, used in the treatment of depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, triggers a decidedly odd side effect in rare male and female partners; yawning, followed by spontaneous orgasm. One woman said she could come by deliberately yawning; one man began wearing a condom all the time to keep from embarrassing himself with stains.
1973
The first report on vascular surgery to restore erectile function is published in the World Journal of Surgery. The successful use of penile prostheses, including inflatable implants, is detailed in Urology, inaugurating a new era for impotence treatment.
LATE 1970s
EARLY 1980s
Evidence accumulates that impotence is most often caused by physical, not emotional, problems. Diabetes, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, depression, cigarette smoking, and side effects of common prescription drugs begin to emerge as more likely culprits than psychodynamic conflicts.
1981
The AIDS epidemic signals the end of the Sexual Revolution.
1983
At the American Urological Association's annual meeting, British neurophysiologist Dr. Giles Brindley pulls down his pants mid-lecture, announces that he has injected himself in the penis with a long-acting alpha-blocking drug, and parades around the auditorium with an erection. He invites members of the audience to feel it lest they suspect he has an implant.
1984
The use of erection stimulating injections allows urologists to better identify the causes of a patient's impotence. Before, diagnosing such a problem was like trying to find a leak in a tire without being able to inflate the thing.
    Medical-grade vacuum pumps, as opposed to novelty devices advertised in men's magazines, are introduced as a viable treatment for impotence.
1985
A new generation of self-contained penile implants hits the market. They prove easier to insert and more reliable that older models.
    New vasodilating drugs show promise as a pharmacological "cure" for many cases of impotence.
1989
The FDA issues a statement that no over-the-counter impotence remedies or aphrodisiacs - from jackal bile to green M&M's - have any scientific basis.
1992
Nitric oxide (NO), a simple gas consisting of one atom of nitrogen bound to one of oxygen, emerges as a key to vasodilation and erectile response. Arginine, a naturally occurring amino acid that the body uses to manufacture NO, is touted by some as a natural remedy for impotence.
    At a National Institutes of Health conference, doctors and researchers finally agree on a definition for impotence; the consistent inability to attain or maintain an erection for satisfactory sexual activity.
    Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer works on sildenafil, a new oral drug for the treatment of angina, a chest pain suffered by many heart patients. The drug fails to provide angina patients much relief, but some formerly impotent test subjects report getting erections after taking it.
1993
With four of the world's five species of rhinoceroses threatened with extinction, the People's Republic of China declares it illegal to use rhino horns for medical purposes. Ditto for tiger bones. In Taiwan and South Korea, the price of soup made from another supposed aphrodisiac, tiger penises, jumps to $350 a bowl.
1994
Data from the ongoing Massachusetts Male Aging Study confirms that vascular risk factors - including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease - are also among the most important predictors of impotence. Men who have one or more of these risks and also smoke cigarettes exponentially increase their chances of impotence.
1995
The FDA approves the sale of Upjohn's Caverject, an injectable from of prostaglandin E1, which becomes the first prescription drug for treating impotence.
    The failed angina drug sildenafil, now also known as Viagra, shows promise as an oral treatment for impotence - even in men with spinal-cord injuries. Marketers and stock analysts commence salivation.
1996
A company called Vivus, Inc. gains FDA approval to market prostaglandin E1 delivered via a transurethral "microsuppository" pellet instead of by injection.
1997
Pfizer officials confer with the Vatican to get the papal view on Viagra. Because the drug appears to have the potential to improve marital relations, the Vatican reportedly gives it a thumbs-up.
1998
The FDA clears Viagra for sale as the first effective oral treatment for impotence. Shortly thereafter, the world goes bonkers.

 

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