March 1981

One of the 'Least Understood Areas of Sexuality'

Author Affiliations

Psychiatrist in Charge Columbia University Health Service Department of Psychiatry St Luke's Hospital New York; Physician in Charge, Pulmonary Laboratory Department of Pulmonary Medicine Beth Israel Hospital New York 993 Park Ave New York, NY 10028

Arch Intern Med. 1981;141(4):424-425. doi:10.1001/archinte.1981.00340040020009

The past two decades have seen a dramatic change in attitudes toward sexuality. Sexual functioning is now regarded as part of everyday life, open for frank discussion. Scientific knowledge of sex has burgeoned, beginning with the work of Kinsey, and then Masters and Johnson, and today there is precise information available on the incidence, nature, and treatment of many sexual dysfunctions, both physiological and psychological.

Unfortunately, thus far only meager contributions to this research have come from the field of internal medicine. With few notable exceptions (as follows), there has been little effort to study the sexual functioning of patients with medical illnesses. In his important textbook Male Sexuality, psychologist Zilbergeld1 states that the relation between sexuality and medical illness is one of the "least understood areas of sexuality." The exceptions are as follows.

Since the field of endocrinology deals directly with the sex organs and sex hormones, the

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