Martin Cole (sexologist)

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Martin Cole
Born Martin John Cole
Nationality British
Alma mater Southampton University
Occupation Sexologist

Martin John Cole (born 1931) is a British sexologist, sex education pioneer and campaigner for abortion law reform, dubbed "Sex King Cole" by the press for his sex education films and books.[1][2]


Cole was born in London in 1931.[3] He went to Southampton University for a BSc in Botany and a PhD in Plant Genetics. After a period in Africa, in 1964 he took up the post of lecturer in Genetics at the College of Advanced Technology which became Aston University.[2][3] In 1984 he left the university, to work full-time at the Institute for Sex Education and Research which he had set up.[4] He has been married three times[5] and has five children.[2]


Apart from his academic work in genetics, he was Chairman of the Birmingham Group of the Abortion Law Reform Association and involved in the setting up of clinics for advice on sexual matters, contraception and abortion.[3] Following the Abortion Act 1967 he was a founder of the Birmingham Pregnancy Advisory Service (which later became the British Pregnancy Advisory Service) which assisted women to get legal abortions, initially using the front room of his home for consultations in 1968.[6] He also set up an Institute of Sex Education and Research in 1966 which included the use of female therapists acting as surrogate partners to treat men with erectile dysfunction.[2][7] In 1972 the Conservative MP for Edgbaston Jill Knight accused him of running a brothel.[2]

In 1971 he placed into the public domain what was then said to be "the most explicit and frank film ever made for use in schools",[8] a thirty minute sex education film called Growing Up. This attracted condemnation by Mary Whitehouse, Lord Longford[9] and Margaret Thatcher.[10] The same year he produced a book "Fundamentals of Sex"[11] which caused particular comment because it contained explicit photographs of the subject matter.[12]

By 1993 though, the Institute of Sex Education and Research had only two therapists still working there from a peak of ten; Cole's approach to resolving sexually problems had been affected by the onset of AIDS.[2]


  1. ^ "Therapy can be fun", Time, 10 September 1973
  2. ^ a b c d e f Chris Arnot "How lack of orgasms turned to lack of interest", The Independent 28 July 1993
  3. ^ a b c Author's biography, The Fundamentals of Sex by P. Cauthery & M. Cole (1973) Corgi Books ISBN 0-552-09185-5
  4. ^ D. Limond (2008) History of Education 37 (3) pp 409-429 ‘I never imagined that the time would come’: Martin Cole, the Growing Up Controversy and the Limits of School Sex Education in 1970s England
  5. ^ "Sex king named in divorce", Daily Mirror, 9 May 1981
  6. ^ Calthorpe Clinic Medical Seminar 26 September 2007 Forty Years of Legal Abortion
  7. ^ "Man behind the first sex clinic in city", Birmingham Post, 18 September 2006
  8. ^ "A sex-act film for children", Daily Mirror 13 January 1971
  9. ^ Daily Mirror 17 April 1971 "Peer slams school sex film"
  10. ^ "That sex film gets 'X' cerificate", Daily Mirror 22 April 1971
  11. ^ P.Cauthery & M. Cole (1971) Fundamentals of Sex, Wiley ISBN 0-491-00169-X
  12. ^ "Dr Cole's Sex Book Shocker", Daily Mirror 1 June 1971

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