Director, Center for Sexual Health Promotion
Open Research and Contributor Identifier
Applied Health Science
Indiana University, Ph.D. in Health Behaviour, 2007
Indiana University, M.P.H., 2003
University of Maryland, B.A. in Psychology, 1998
For more than 20 years, Dr. Debby Herbenick's research has focused on understanding how people experience their bodies and sexual lives. Among her 190+ scientific publications, she has developed and validated measurement scales to assess genital self-image, the quality of sexual experiences, and has consulted on the development of a number of other measures. Dr. Herbenick is the Principal Investigator of the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB), an ongoing U.S. nationally representative probability survey of Americans' sexual lives that began in 2008. The award-winning NSSHB covers nine decades of live and has included tens of thousands of Americans. In total—between the NSSHB and several other separately supported studies—Dr. Herbenick has led 13 U.S. probability surveys dedicated to understanding contemporary sex in the United States. Her research has addressed women's sexual pleasure and masturbation, vibrator use, couples communication, consensual non-monogamy, diverse sexual behaviors, condom use, sexual satisfaction, sexually explicit media use, and the use of consumer sexual health and enhancement products (e.g., vibrators, condoms, lubricants, etc.). Most recently, she has turned her attention to studying population-level increases in what some call rough sex behaviors, with a particular focus on understanding people's experiences with sexual choking, which is a form of strangulation, and also understanding its health sequelae.
An award winning researcher and educator, Dr. Herbenick is internationally known for her creative ways of sharing sexual science with the general public. She has published five best-selling books about sex, several thousand newspaper and magazine columns, served as co-producer for the Emmy-nominated documentary Hot Girls Wanted, and has consulted on sexuality topics for various films and television shows. In addition, Dr. Herbenick wrote The Kinsey Institute's Kinsey Confidential columns and podcasts for 17 years. She has appeared on various television, radio, and web-based video series talking about sex and sex research. She is also the founder and host of the Bloomington Sex Salon, a popular event series dedicated to creating campus-community conversations about sexuality topics.
Herbenick, D., Guerra-Reyes, L., Patterson, C., Rosenstock Gonzalez, Y.R., Wagner, C., and Zounlome, N. (In press). "It was scary, but then it was kind of exciting": Young women's experiences with choking during sex. Archives of Sexual Behavior.
Herbenick, D., Fu, T., Patterson, C., Rosenstock Gonzalez, Y.R., Luetke, M., Svetina Valdivia, D., Eastman-Mueller, H., Guerra-Reyes, L., & Rosenberg, M. (In press). Prevalence and characteristics of choking/strangulation during sex: Findings from a probability survey of undergraduate students. Journal of American College Health.
Herbenick, D., Fu, T., Patterson, C., & Fortenberry, J.D. (In press). Exercise-induced orgasm and its association with sleep orgasms and orgasms during partnered sex: Findings from a U.S. probability survey. Archives of Sexual Behavior.
Herbenick, D., Fu, T., Svetina Valdivia, D., Patterson, C., Rosenstock Gonzalez, Y., Guerra-Reyes, L., Eastman-Mueller, H., Beckmeyer, J., & Rosenberg, M. (2021). What is rough sex, who does it, and who likes it? Findings from a probability survey of U.S. undergraduate students. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 50(3), 1183-1195.
Townes, A., Guerra-Reyes, L., Murray, M., Rosenberg, M., Wright, B., Long, L., & Herbenick, D. (2020). 'Somebody that looks like me' matters: a qualitative study of black women's preferences for receiving sexual health services in the USA. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 1-15. PMID: 32996382
Luetke, M., Hensel, D., Herbenick, D., & Rosenberg, M. (2020). Romantic relationship conflict due to the COVID-19 pandemic and changes in intimate and sexual behaviors in a nationally representative sample of American adults. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 46(8), 747-762. PMID: 32878584
Herbenick, D., Fu, T.C., Wright, P., Paul, B., Gradus, R., Bauer, J., Jones, R. (2020). Pornography use and diverse sexual behaviors: Findings from a Nationally Representative Survey of Americans Ages 14 to 60. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 17(4), 623-633.
Herbenick, D., Eastman-Mueller, H., Fu, T.C., Dodge, B., Ponander, K., & Sanders, S.A. (2019). Women's sexual satisfaction, communication, and reasons for (no longer) faking orgasm: Findings from a U.S. probability sample. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 48(8), 2461-2472. PMID: 31502071
Herbenick, D., Bartelt, E., Fu, T.C., Paul, B., Gradus, R., Bauer, J., and Jones, R. (2019). Feeling scared during sex: Findings and implications from a U.S. probability sample of women and men ages 14 to 60. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. Published online ahead of print.
Herbenick, D., Fu, T.C., Arter, J., Dodge, B., & Sanders, S.A. (2017). Women's experiences with genital touching, sexual pleasure, and orgasm: results from a U.S. probability sample. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. Published online ahead of print.
Herbenick, D., Bowling, J., Fu, T.C.J., Dodge, B., Guerra-Reyes, L., Sanders, S. (2017). Sexual diversity in the United States: Results from a nationally representative probability sample of adult women and men. PLOS One. Article Link
Herbenick, D., Schick, V., Sanders, S.A., Reece, M., and Fortenberry, J.D. (2015). Pain experienced during vaginal and anal intercourse among male-female partners: findings from a nationally representative probability study in the United States. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 12(4), 1040-1051.
Herbenick, D., Reece, M., Schick, V., Sanders, S., & Fortenberry, J.D. (2013). The development and validation of the male genital self-image scale: results from a nationally representative probability sample of men in the United States. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 10(6), 1516-1525.
Herbenick, D., Reece, M., Sanders, S.A., Schick, V., Dodge, B., & Fortenberry, J.D. (2010). Sexual behavior in the United States: Results from a national probability sample of males and females ages 14 to 94. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7 (suppl 5), 255-265.
Dr. Herbenick's books include The Coregasm Workout, Sex Made Easy, Read My Lips: A Complete Guide to the Vulva and Vagina, Great in Bed and Because It Feels Good. Her books have been translated into five languages.
For more information about Dr. Herbenick's published books, visit her Amazon author page: