Encyclopedia of Sex and Sexuality:About
From Encyclopedia of Sex and Sexuality
Dr. Ruth's Encyclopedia of Sex & Sexuality is a fully copyrighted online version of the print encyclopedia by Dr Ruth Westheimer.
 From the Introduction to the print version
I went from being Dr. Ruth Westheimer, college professor, to being “Dr. Ruth,” radio host, in 1980. In the intervening years I have been working hard to help eliminate what I call “sexual illiteracy,” in other words the lack of knowledge about human sexual functioning. Great strides have been made since those early days, by me and by others, but I also know from the questions I am asked on TV and radio, in letters and at personal appearances, that there are still many people out there, particularly young people, who need to know more. That’s why I am so pleased to be able to offer this encyclopedia, which contains almost every answer about human sexuality that anyone may be seeking.
My reason for wanting to teach human sexuality stems from my experience working in the Planned Parenthood organization in the early 1970s. Young people came and asked all sorts of questions, and I discovered that I didn’t always know enough to give them the proper answers. In order to learn more, I enrolled in the Human Sexuality program at New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical School, which was led by one of our foremost experts on the subject, Dr. Helen Singer Kaplan, and I became a psychosexual therapist. Now I’ve had my own private practice for nearly two decades and I’ve taught human sexuality at several colleges. I still read all of the literature about human sexuality that I can find and I have written ten books on the subject. You would think that by this time I would certainly know the subject backward and forward. But let me tell you a little secret—even I learned some things in the preparation of this encyclopedia.
You see, that is the wonderful thing about the encyclopedic format. I did not write every article. For certain topics I asked the top experts in their fields to share their knowledge with a wide audience. With a subject as complex as human sexuality, there is always something new being discovered, and these authorities provided me with the latest information. And since I am not a medical doctor, I had the articles on the medical aspects of human sexuality written by noted physicians. I’ve been told that on some topics there is more information in this encyclopedia than you’d find in a medical textbook.
Though I’m the one who asked the doctors, lawyers, and other professionals to contribute to this encyclopedia, it was not written for the benefit of an expert like me, but rather for the general reader, and especially for high school and college students. You, the reader, will already know some of the facts that are in this book, but quite possibly much in this encyclopedia will be new to you. I am particularly eager to clarify some of the myths about human sexuality that many young people have. But even for adults, sometimes one thinks one knows about something, like exactly how a baby is conceived, but it’s wonderful to have the correct knowledge at one’s fingertips to either make sure that you have the story straight, to refresh your memory, or to teach you a part of the process that you never really understood. And with an encyclopedia you don’t have to go through the entire book to find what you want to know, but can turn to the precise article that will answer your particular questions.
While it was certainly a thrill to hold in my hands my first published book, Dr. Ruth’s Guide to Good Sex, the publication of this encyclopedia pleases me more than that of any of my other books. These pages contain all of the information that anyone might ever need about human sexuality, and the more of these books that I can get into people’s hands, either through public or school libraries, or as part of your family’s personal library, the greater the impact I will have made in combatting sexual illiteracy. As a sex therapist I have an obligation to help people avoid the dangerous effects of sexual illiteracy, for example unwanted pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, especially that dreadful killer, AIDS.
Human sexuality gives us all great pleasure, but as our bodies develop into adulthood and we begin to share and enjoy the gratifications of sex, we must also learn the responsibilities that come with these new powers. With the enjoyment of sex come some very serious potential consequences, because the human sexual response was not given to us only for pleasure: it is ultimately tied to human reproduction. Bringing a new life into the world is not something that should be done lightly, and the more information a person has about the process, the better the decisions he or she will ultimately make.
So, as you read and use this encyclopedia, I hope that it teaches you a lot, and if what you learn also stimulates you in other ways, that will please me too.
R. K. W.
 Editors and Contributors
 Jung H. Ahn, M.D.
Clinical Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, Howard A. Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation, New York City, New York.
 Carmen Alonso, M.D.
Physician-in-Charge, Consultation Liaison Services, Schneider Children’s Hospital, New Hyde Park, New York.
 Sally Andrews, M.D.
Senior Assistant Resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Galveston, Texas.
 Shawn Armstrong, M.D.
Chief Resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Galveston, Texas.
 H. Randolph Bailey, M.D.
Clinical Professor of Surgery, Chief of the Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery, University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, Texas.
 Ruth K. Westheimer ED.D.
Adjunct Associate Professor, New York University; Fellow, New York Academy of Medicine, New York City, New York.
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