A sexologist is someone concerned with the scholarly investigation of human sexuality, from normal sexual development to pathologies such as sexual abuse. The field is highly interdisciplinary, incorporating knowledge from a number of academic pursuits, and sexologists can work in a range of settings. Some are primarily interested in conducting studies and clinical trials to understand more about human sexuality, for example, while others offer therapy to people with sexual dysfunction, drawing upon their experience to help people.
The study of human sexuality is ancient, as many ancient sex manuals attest, and humans have long been interested in the many facets of sexuality. A sexologist draws from a number of fields, including psychology, medicine, anthropology, sociology, biology, and epidemiology. Some colleges and universities specifically offer opportunities to study this discipline, while others allow students to create their own sexology degrees from within various academic departments. Someone interested in the biology of human sexuality, for example, could work from the perspective of biology.
Normal human sexuality covers a very broad spectrum, and many experts in this field are interested in the diversity of human sexuality, what contributes to sexual development, and the interaction between culture and sexuality. Others are interested in pathologies, and what causes people to develop abnormal or dangerous behaviors and attitudes. Sexual dysfunction is also a topic of interest for some professionals, with researchers studying the various causes and solutions for sexual dysfunction to improve quality of life for people who struggle with this problem.
As a student of sexual behavior, a sexologist can meet with some skepticism from people unfamiliar with the field. Many people are uncomfortable with discussions of sexuality, let alone frank and often clinical study of it, and sexologists sometimes meet with opposition when they present the findings of research studies, seek funding to assist with new studies, or even mention what they do at a dinner party. For some professionals, a large part of their work involves educating people about human sexuality and encouraging honest discussions about issues such as communication in relationships, healthy sexual development, and methods for preventing the spread of disease.
Some notable researchers in the field include Alfred Kinsey, author of the notorious Kinsey Reports, along with William Masters and Virginia Johnson. There are a number of avenues of exploration within the study of human sexuality for someone interested in becoming a sexologist, ranging from the sexual practices of ancient cultures to modern social attitudes that facilitate or hinder the spread of sexually transmitted infections.