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Timeline of Erectile Dysfunction History

2000 B.C. - The first recorded mention of impotence is written on Egyptian papyrus scrolls.

1000 A.D. - In India, Ayurvedic medicine and the Kama Sutra make references to erectile dysfunction. One suggested remedy: ram's testicle boiled in milk.

320 B.C. - According to Greek philosopher Theophrastus, a plant called satyrion can enable a man to perform up to 70 times in a row.

50 A.D. - Roman physician Pliny the Elder sets down a comprehensive list of impotence cures and aphrodisiacs, including ginger, truffles, vulture lung, rooster testicles, and goose tongue.



1234  -  Impotence is grounds for divorce under Catholic law. Pope Gregory IX declares that to validate a marriage, an assigned matron must witness the couple in an "act of congress" performed by firelight.


1400 - In China, carved jade and ivory rings are used to maintain erections.

1486 - A Catholic inquisitor authors Malleus Malleficarum (The Witches' Hammer) in Germany. According to this treatise on the practice of witchcraft, most witches are female, and are capable of inducing impotence.

1605 - Shakespeare notes that alcohol "provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance."


1659 - First shipment of cocoa arrives in France from the New World. The beverage is soon noted as an aphrodisiac.


1700s - Spanish fly becomes a popular aphrodisiac in Europe.

Early 1800s - French physician Vincent Marie Mondat invents the mechanical penis pump. The basic technology has changed little since then.

Late 1800s - A variety of quack cures for impotence become popular, including radioactive tonics, and devices that administer electric shocks.

1912 - Sigmund Freud postulates that most cases of erectile dysfunction are caused by neuroses and repressed desires, not physical causes.

1948 - Alfred Kinsey publishes his first report, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, which reveals that erectile dysfunction is far more prevalent than previously believed.

1960s - Surgical penile implants used successfully to treat ED.

1970 - Sex researches Masters and Johnson declare that most cases of impotence are psychological in origin, setting ED progress back 50 years.

1983 - Dr. Giles Brindley demonstrates the efficacy of an injectable penile drug by administering it to himself, then taking off his pants during a presentation and parading his erection for examination.

1993 - Several exotic animal species become endangered because they are being poached to collect body parts with supposed aphrodisiac properties, such as tiger penis and rhinoceros horn.

1998 - The FDA approves Viagra, and erectile dysfunction treatment enters a new era. Approval of Levitra and Cialis follow a few years later.

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