Debra Herbenick

Applied Health Science

Director, the Center for Sexual Health Promotion; Research Fellow & Sexual Health Educator
Kinsey Institute
(812) 855-7011

  • Indiana University, Ph.D., 2007
  • Indiana University, M.P.H., 2003
  • University of Maryland, B.A., 1998
  • F255 Human Sexuality
  • H340/540 Practicum in College Sex Education
  • H494 Research and Evaluation Methods in Health and Safety
  • C505 Foundations and Leadership in Public Health
  • President-Elect, American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT)
  • Grants exceeding $2 million from the US Department of State, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Patty Brisben Foundation, as well as various corporate and start-up companies
  • 2013 Early Career Scholar Award. School of Public Health - Bloomington. Indiana University. Bloomington, Indiana.
  • 2016 Scientific Chair, International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • Chair, Bloomington Commission on the Status of Women
  • Past or present board members of ISSWSH, AASECT, the American Sexual Health Association, and the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality
  • Co-producer, Hot Girls Wanted (Emmy-nominated)
Research Interests

 For more than 15 years, Dr. Herbenick's research has focused on better understanding how contemporary women and men experience their bodies and their sexual lives. Among her 100+ scientific publications, she has created measurement scales to assess male and female genital self-image, the quality of sexual experiences, attitudes toward condoms, attitudes toward bisexual women and men, and she has consulted on the development of a number of other measurement scales. Since 2008, together with her colleague Dr. Michael Reece in the School of Public Health, she has led the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB) - a nationally representative survey of Americans focusing on their sexual behaviors and experiences. In total - between the NSSHB and several other (separately funded) studies - she has conducted 8 nationally representative studies of sex in America including issues related to female pleasure/masturbation, couples communication, diiverse sexual behaviors, condom use and condom attitudes, sexual satisfaction, genital sensation and pleasuring techniques, media use, and the use of consumer products (e.g., condoms, lubricants, technology, vibrators and other sex toys). Passionate about sharing sexual science with the general public, Dr. Herbenick has also written five books and several thousand newspaper and magazine columns about sex. She hosts the Kinsey Confidential column and podcast series, and has appeared on various TV, radio and web-based video series talking about sex and sex research. In addition, she is the founder and host of the Bloomington Sex Salon, a popular local event series dedicated to creating campus-community conversations about sexuality topics, with rotating guests.

Selected Publications

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., Mullinax, M., and Mark, K. (2014). Sexual desire discrepancy as a feature, not a bug, of long-term relationships: women's self-reported strategies for modulating sexual desire. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 11(9): 2196-2206.

Anderson, T.A., Schick, V., Herbenick, D., Dodge, B., Fortenberry, J.D. (2014). A study of human papillomavirus on vaginally inserted sex toys, before and after cleaning, among women who have sex with women and men. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 90, 529-531.

Herbenick, D., Reece, M., Schick, V., Sanders, S.A., and Fortenberry, J.D. (2014). Women's use and perceptions of commercial lubricants: prevalence and characteristics in a nationally representative sample of American adults. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 11(3), 642-652.

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., Schick, V., Jozkowski, K., Middlestadt, S., Sanders, S.A., Dodge, B., Ghassemi, A., & Fortenberry, J.D. (2011). Beliefs about women's vibrator use: results from a nationally representative survey in the United States. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 37(5), 329-345.

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.