1881 - 1957 (76 years)
||Ernest Grafenberg |
||26 Sep 1881
||Ernst Gräfenberg: From Berlin, Germany to New York |
I am honored to have been invited to be Dr. Ernst Gräfenberg's “living legend” and to describe his work. Dr. Gräfenberg was born 26 September 1881 in Adelebsen near Gottingen, Germany. He died in 1957 in the United States. Dr. Gräfenberg was an ingenious scientist and a great physician. He is best known for his work in the development of the intrauterine device (IUD) and for his studies of the role of the female urethra in orgasm. Little is published or really known of his personal life. I have spoken with his only known living relatives in the Untied States, distant cousins. They could shed very little on his life, except that they thought he was once married (very briefly).and had no children. I will now tell you what I know about Dr. Gräfenberg.
MEDICAL EXPERIENCE - KIEL AND Berlin, Germany
Dr. Gräfenberg studied medicine in Goettingen and Munich. He obtained his doctorate on 10 March 1905, graduating “Summa cum laude.” He began his work as a doctor in the department of ophthalmology at the University of Wuerzburg, Bavaria. He then moved to the obstetrical and gynecological department of the University of Kiel.
After finishing his training in gynecology at the University of Kiel in 1910, he went to work as a gynecologist in Berlin, Germany. During the First World War he took an active part and served as a sanitation officer. Even while working on the battlefront, he was often called to deliver babies of Russian women and even provided a pair of forceps, since none had been brought along with the supplies. During the war, he published seven papers on thoracic and abdominal gunshot wounds (Semm & Giese, 1983). Through his clinical activities, Dr. Gräfenberg became aware of the needs of poor (and not so poor) women, which may explain his lifelong interest in birth control and sexology side Drive,
After 10 years of research and the insertion of over 100 IUDs, Gräfenberg gave his first lecture on “Silk as a method of contraception” in Berlin, Germany in1928. Gräfenberg began lecturing in London and Frankfurt on the method of intrauterine birth control that he developed, called the Gräfenberg ring. This ring was made of coiled silver wireThis ring was used until the 1960s, when plastic IUDs replaced it. Recently, doctors have begun to prescribe the Gräfenberg ring again, because, unlike plastic IUDs, it does not have a thread, and so may be safer because infections can sometimes travel up the thread and into the uterus. However, because of the statistics of PID with other IUDs, Gräfenberg was denounced by virtually all leaders of German gynecology, who branded intrauterine contraception as a medically unacceptable method of birth control.
In 1928, Gräfenberg became a member of the executive committee of the International Society of Sexology. In 1933, as a result of political pressure, Gräfenberg, a Jewish physician, was forced to give up his position as head of the department of Gynecology and Obstetrics in Britz/Berlin, Germany. Ultimately, the advertising of contraceptives and/or giving contraceptive advice became illegal in Germany. In 1934 Dr. Hans Lehfeldt (who was now in the United States) tried to persuade Gräfenberg to leave Germany. He decided to stay, believing he was relatively safe, since many of his patients were wives of high Nazi officials. He was wrong.
ESCAPE FROM GERMANY
In 1937 he was arrested for allegedly having smuggled a valuable stamp out of Germany. When influential friends of the International Society of Sexology discovered what had happened, the U.S. consulate began negotiations and deposited a large ransom for his release. It is reported that Margaret Sanger of New York negotiated his release from prison. In 1940 he was finally able to leave Germany and immigrate to California, traveling via Siberia and Japan.
It is reported that in Hollywood he found old friends and patients. He began working as a pathologist in Chicago while he prepared for the Medical Board Examinations. He passed the boards in 1941 at age 60. He then settled in New York City, where he developed a large private practice. He became affiliated with the Mount Sinai Medical Center. In 1950 his seminal article “The role of the urethra in female orgasm” (Gräfenberg, 1950, revised 1953). It was the findings reported by Dr. Ernst Gräfenberg in this latter article that lead Dr. John Perry and me to name the sensitive area he described the Gräfenberg spot or G spot.
In 1953 Dr. Gräfenberg was found to be suffering from Parkinson's disease and he was forced to give up his private practice. He then devoted his creativity to the Margaret Sanger Research Bureau in New York. He also became acquainted with Alfred Kinsey and his Institute for Sex Research. Hans Lehfeldt and Connie Christine Wheeler (1994) report that Gräfenberg's own sex history was among those included in the Kinsey Report.
Dr. Gräfenberg died quietly of Parkinson’s Disease on 28 October 1957 in New York City. It is surprising that there was no notice about his death in scientific papers or in the newspapers. One German weekly described him as a medical benefactor, who was marked by the modesty of a truly great man. This highly gifted man, who published a total of 45 papers that I am aware of, did not live to see his work recognized worldwide. It was only in 1981 that the sensitive area felt through the anterior vaginal wall after this great man. He has now gained the recognition he deserves.
Beverly Whipple, PhD, RN, FAAN, Rutgers University
||3 Tis 5642
||New York, NY, USA
||New York, NY, USA
||3 Che 5718
||28 Oct 1957
||New York, NY, USA
||3 Jan 2011 |