Sexuality from the 80′s to Right Now


Dr Ruth (Westheimer) became a public figure when she went on air as a New York talk show host at age 52 with her radio show Sexually Speaking. The grandmotherly sex therapist became so popular that her show was soon being broadcast across the United States.

In 1984 she was given her own TV show “The Dr Ruth Show” which was to run internationally for 450 episodes, until 1988.


The Abortion Pill, RU486, was developed in France. The name was taken from the French company, Roussel Uclaf, compound number 38486. The pill, also known by its generic names Mifepristone, Mifeprex and Mifegyne, is effective in the first 7 weeks of pregnancy only.

In 2000, it was approved by the FDA and became available at abortion clinics in the US, but has remained highly controversial, along with the whole issue of abortion.


AIDS was identified in the United States, although the virus the causes it, HIV, had been around for years before this. Sexual transmission was suspected but it was not yet known that this was the main avenue of infection.


The diagnosis of homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder was finally removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III), which is the bible of the psychiatric profession, published in the US but used around the world. The British were only slightly more progressive; they removed homosexuality from their directory of mental illnesses in 1982.


Magic Johnson announced that he was HIV-positive and retired from a star-studded basketball career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Earvin “Magic” Johnson has since used his celebrity, (which along with Freddy Mercury, who died the same year, is probably as famous as anyone associated with AIDS) to call attention to safe sex. Unlike Freddy, Magic Johnson has been the ambassador of heterosexual risk reduction, even though his sexual record was as extraordinary as his basketball skills.


The Female Condom became available in Europe. It was approved in the US in 1993. This female controlled barrier method of contraception offers protection against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. The original female condom was made of a substance called polyurethane, which is thinner than latex and better able to transfer body heat, but it is also more expensive. Male polyurethane condoms became available in 1994.

The second generation female condom was released in 2005. It is made of nitrile which is just as safe as polyurethane, but the condom does not make the unwanted rustling sounds that its predecessor does.


Joycelyn Elders was fired by US President Bill Clinton from her post as Surgeon General, after speaking in favour of masturbation at the United Nations World AIDS Day event. Dr. Elders had been appointed to this task by Clinton, because of her powerful advocacy of the fight against AIDS. The comment that supposedly got her fired was “masturbation is something that is a part of human sexuality, and is a part of something that perhaps should be taught” (to which she later added “masturbation is really something you don’t have to teach.”)


News of the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke in January, exposing an affair between then US President Bill Clinton and Whitehouse Intern Lewinsky. The 22-year old Lewinsky became the centre of a story that will best be remembered by Clinton’s quote “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”.

Through the ensuing investigations, attempts at impeachment, apologies and book deals, it was revealed that the pair had enjoyed oral sex, cigar sex and other oval office frolics.

This incident served to bring the question of what constitutes sex into mainstream discussion.


Viagra came onto the market as a drug for male sexual dysfunction. It has since grown to annual sales of over $1 billion (excluding sales of illegal generic copies), not only for dysfunction but also as a recreational drug, meaning that it is used to achieve better sexual performance in men that do not necessarily have erectile problems. It is sometimes prescribed for women but has not yet been approved for treatment of female sexual dysfunction.


Sex and the City aired on June 6th. Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte spent the next 6 years doing some unorthodox sex education. In an episode of the first season we were introduced Charlotte’s vibrator, the Jack Rabbit. The toy was so sought after that in some cities, all available models were sold out of the shops within days.


 Cialis was approved in Europe as the new erectile dysfunction drug. A year later, it is approved and sold in the US. Like Viagra, it is used not only for dysfunction but also for improved performance. Unlike Viagra, which has a 4 hour active period, with Cialis the effect lasts up to 36 hours, and earned it the nickname “the Weekend Pill”.


Seasonale pills went onto the market under the slogan “Fewer periods, more possibilities”. This oral contraceptive which comes in courses of 84 days instead of 21, was designed to keep woman free of monthly periods, having four periods a year instead. The popularity of this new version of the pill has recently led other drug developers to start testing pills that will be taken non-stop, meaning that periods can be eliminated until they are absolutely necessary.


Italian scientist, Emmanuele Jannini, of the University of L’Aquila claims to be the first person to find anatomical evidence of the female G-Spot. He found physiological differences between women who experience vaginal orgasms and those who do not. Doing ultrasound testing, he found vaginally orgasmic women to have thicker tissue between the vagina and the urethra.


Flibanserin, the drug that was commonly expected to become the “Pink Viagra” or the “Female Viagra” was not given FDA approval, prompting developers Boehringer Ingelheim to call off years of expensive R&D and pharmaceutical marketing. This drug in development was expected to treat Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), otherwise known as low sexual desire in women, the most common form of sexual dysfunction, for those who consider it to even be a dysfunction (as opposed to a normal reaction to the modern female lifestyle and demands). A drug like this, were it ever to make it to the market, would supposedly be worth an annual $2 billion, which has had many eager pharmaceutical companies trying to find solutions.

Development of Flibanserin was discontinued in June 2010 after clinical trials failed to show that this drug was significantly more effective than placebos, but produced a range of side effects that would not be justified by its purpose.

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