The 3 Biggest Sex Research Breakthroughs Ever
Check out some of the most important things we learned from sex research pioneers William Masters and Virginia Johnson
Set your DVRs: Showtime is debuting a new series called Masters of Sex, starring Lizzy Caplan and Michael Sheen, on September 29. The project is getting a ton of buzz, and it’s pretty clear why: The new show, based on the 2009 book of the same name, delves into the lives and research of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, who began researching sexual behavior together in the 1950s. The pair eventually married (and later divorced), making huge leaps in sexology along the way; they shed light on a taboo topic and put the kibosh on a whole bunch of long-standing sex myths.
The approach they used was pretty revolutionary, too: observation. They observed hundreds of volunteers and tens of thousands of orgasms in order to reach their scientific conclusions, even using a phallic device with a small camera attached to figure out what goes on inside of women during sex!
Check out some of their most important findings:
Sex Has Different Stages Masters and Johnson identified the biological progression that people go through during sex—what they referred to as the human sexual response cycle. (Other researchers have since developed different descriptions of this cycle.) It includes four stages: the excitement phase, the plateau phase, the orgasmic phase, and the resolution phase. It’s also the same for both men and women, they said, though the physical details within each stage vary between the sexes.
Women Can Have Multiple Orgasms Masters and Johnson proved that women don’t have a refractory period like guys do, so they can climax again and again. Thanks, guys!
Penis Size Doesn’t Matter OK, so this one is still hotly debated. But according to Masters and Johnson, the vagina adapts to the size of the penis during sex—so a man’s length or girth shouldn’t affect a woman’s pleasure.
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