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SEXUAL MEDICINE HISTORY: The Birth and Development of Sexual Medicine: Reflections of My Personal Journey



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: ERRATA Volume 4, Issue 5, 1520, Article first published online: 22 August 2007

Alan Riley, MSc, MB, BS, MRCS, FFPM, University of Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE, UK. E-mail:


Introduction.  The phrase “sexual medicine” has become commonplace, as there is now the International Society for Sexual Medicine, the British Society for Sexual Medicine, the European Academy for Sexual Medicine, and the Journal of Sexual Medicine. The historic origin of the phrase “sexual medicine” is somewhat obscure.

Aim.  The goal of this report is to provide my own individual journey as a physician to recall the use of the phrase “sexual medicine.”

Methods.  Literature review, personal historic recall.

Results.  Gorm Wagner has identified three publications in the German language that include “Sexualmedizin” in the titles, the first published as early as 1908, and the other two publications were published in 1915 and 1931. I have no recollection of having heard the term “sexual medicine” before a meeting in 1970 on nonconsummation. I met Dr. Eric Trimmer, editor of “Medical News,” who discussed with me the idea of introducing a new journal devoted to sexual issues. I suggested the title “British Journal of Sexual Medicine.” The term “sexual medicine” was preferred because it encompassed both organic and psychological issues of sexual function and its problems. The British Journal of Sexual Medicine was published in 1973 to 1985. Other titles using Sexual Medicine appeared in other texts over the years.

Conclusions.  From my perspective, including a search of the literature in the English language published in or before 1970 that failed to find any reference to sexual medicine, I conclude that the phase “sexual medicine” was popularized in the 1970s. Riley A. The birth and development of sexual medicine: Reflections of my personal journey. J Sex Med 2007;4:815–821.