• History of Sexual Medicine;
  • Paolo Mantegazza;
  • 19th Century


Introduction.  It is generally assumed that modern sexual medicine was founded by German psychiatrists and dermatologists. Fequently mentioned are, for example, Richard von Krafft-Ebing and Iwan Bloch. History of modern sexual medicine began, indeed, decades earlier so that nowadays we look back over 150 years—not 100 years—of research, praxis, and teaching.

Aim.  The goal of this report is an acknowledgement of the achievements of the Italian professor of pathology and anthropology, Paolo Mantegazza (1831–1910).

Methods.  In several European countries, literary historical studies about the history of sexual science and sexual medicine have been conducted for over more than 30 years.

Results.  It became evident that Paolo Mantegazza possesses already the whole width of modern sexual-medical activities, from laboratory experiments to cultural-critical and ethnological studies. Curiously enough, his books, translated in many languages, were almost completely forgotten after his death.

Conclusions.  Modern sexual medicine originates in the second half of the 19th century, decades before the studies of Albert Moll, Havelock Ellis, Sigmund Freud, Iwan Bloch, or Magnus Hirschfeld. But its present name was coined generally only three or four researcher generations later. Sigusch V. The birth of sexual medicine: Paolo mantegazza as pioneer of sexual medicine in the 19th century. J Sex Med 2008;5:217–222.