Sexual Teachings of William Masters and Virginia Johnson Part 3

About the husband and wife scientific research team William Masters and Virginia Johnson, biography and history of their sexual teachings.


WILLIAM H. MASTERS (1915- ), U.S., and VIRGINIA E. JOHNSON (1925- ), U.S.


In Human Sexual Response, Masters and Johnson reported on the physiology of the attainment of orgasm, which occurs in four phases for both sexes:

1. Excitement. The man's penis erects, and the walls of the woman's vagina "sweat" (lubricate). The man's testes pull up in his body, while the scrotum tenses and thicknes. The woman's labia, clitoris, and breasts swell, and the inner two-thirds of her vagina becomes roomier. A sex flush (rash) appears on 75% of the women and 25% of the men.

2. Plateau. The man's testes increase in size 50%, while the woman's clitoris retracts and her vagina swells. There is increased pulse rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.

3. Orgasm. In the man, the prostatic fluid and semen are ejected, while, in the woman, the vagina contracts. Contractions in both sexes occur at first at a rate of one every 4/5 second, then at wider intervals. The number of contractions varies from 3 to 12 or more, with a record of 25 in 43 seconds. (There is a correlation between the number of contractions and the subjective intensity of the orgasm.)

4. Resolution. Both sexes return slowly to the preexcitement state.

Masters and Johnson came up with some startling facts that invalidated much of what psychologists had been telling their patients for years. There was, they found, no physiological difference between "clitoral" and "vaginal" orgasms. This silenced the Freudian advocates of the "mature" vaginal orgasm as opposed to the "immature" clitoral one. During intercourse, the clitoris, which retracts during the plateau phase, is stimulated in a Rube Goldbergian series of hookups between the thrusting penis, the labia, and the clitoral hood.

The most intense orgasms in women occurred during masturbation. Many women are multiorgasmic, capable of up to six orgasms if stimulated within a short period after climax. Some women, using an electric vibrator, are able to have more than 20 orgasms an hour.

In their study of older people, they found that sexual functioning changes, but does not cease, with age. Men tend to take longer to have an erection, can engage in intercourse longer, and ejaculate less explosively, while women lubricate less and need sexual continuity to function at optimal levels.

The therapy program revealed that sexual inadequacy stems from a number of causes--childhood traumas, a puritanical upbringing, adolescent problems. However, in treating premature ejaculation, Masters and Johnson had only four failures out of 186; their success rate for primary impotence was 60%; and 80% of the women who had never had an orgasm became orgasmic. Their success rate for all the patients they treated was 75.5%.

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