Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.

Recent posts

How Common is Pain During Vaginal and Anal Intercourse?

Our new study addresses pain during vaginal and anal intercourse among a nationally representative study of Americans. The data are from our 2012 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior and have just been published online in the Journal of Sexual Medicine (infographic below thanks to David Orr). We see, for example, that 30% of women report pain during vaginal sex and about 72% report pain during anal sex. Though pain is less commonly reported by men, doctors, nurses, researchers and educators should pay more attention to men’s experiences of pain during sex, too.  Our data also show that sizable proportions of Americans never even tell their partner when they’re in pain, which of course leaves one’s partner unable to help, to switch positions, to add lubricant, or to avoid that position or kind of thrusting or whatever else in the future…. Continue Reading →

5 Things You Should Know About Coregasm (Having an Orgasm While You Exercise)

My newest book, The Coregasm Workout, is all about coregasms – that is, exercise-induced orgasm (EIO) and also exercise-induced arousal (EIA). A lot of things have been written on the Internet about coregasms and unfortunately much of it isn’t true. That’s why I wrote the book: because I very often receive questions about this area of my research and because I like it when people have good, solid information. Let’s start with some basics:

1. Exercise-induced orgasm is not rare. Continue Reading →

My First Newsletter! It’s On Intimacy and Affection.

On January 1, I sent out my first newsletter. Over the past few years, I’ve dedicated more of my research to understanding how sex, intimacy, and affection fit together, so it seemed fitting to share this with subscribers. If you’d like to receive occasional emails from me about sex, love, and relationships, sign up on the Tiny Letter website. It’s free, from you to me. And it just might make your life happier. Continue Reading →

Meeting Dr. Ruth Again

Last week I was so honored to give a talk at the Center for Sex Education’s National Sex Ed Conference, held in Meadowlands, New Jersey. The Sex Ed Conference is the brainchild of sex educator Bill Taverner, who has long been something of a hero and mentor to me. So when he asked me to come give a talk at his meeting, the only possible answer was “absolutely!” Imagine my surprise and delight when, in the months that followed after Bill’s invitation, I learned who else would be there: Jane Fonda also gave a keynote talk related to her book Being a Teen and her years of work in adolescent reproductive health; Former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher won an award; as did Dr. Ruth Westheimer. I could go on and on about the wonderful women and men who gave talks at the CSE conference, but really you should see for yourself. I met people working from all over the place, in communities large and small, some who worked with LGBT youth or with teen parents and others who worked with the elderly or in clinics or in schools. Continue Reading →

New Study on Exercise and Sex: Our 30 Day Core Challenge

Researchers from the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University’s School of Public Health in Bloomington, Indiana are recruiting women and men to participate in a 30 Day Core Challenge, which is a study of exercise and sexual feelings (such as arousal and orgasm). In order to be eligible you must be at least 18 years old. You must be able to engage in physical exercise (such as squats and abdominal exercises, like crunches). In addition, you need to be willing to go online every day for up to 30 days to complete a short questionnaire about the exercises you did that day (if you did any) and any sexual feelings, such as arousal or orgasm, that you experienced. To learn more about the study or participate, visit the study website at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/corechallengestudy 

Thank you. Continue Reading →

Thanksgiving: Sex Things to be Thankful For

In addition to family, friends, good health, and an enchanting world to live in, here are some things I am thankful for about sexuality and bodies and maybe you are too:

1) Vaginal tenting: The process by which sexual excitation causes the vagina to expand in length and width makes for more comfortable, pleasurable vaginal intercourse and vaginal penetration and that makes these types of sex better for many people the world over. 2) Lubrication: Here I mean both vaginal lubrication and store-bought lubricant, as each can make different types of sex and sex play more comfortable and pleasurable. Spending enough time doing exciting foreplay/sex play things in ways that enhance vaginal lubrication can also help to reduce the risk of vaginal discomfort, pain, and/or tearing. So much to be grateful for! 3) Erections: I hope to never lose wonder over the magic of erections. Continue Reading →

My Favorite Facebook Status Updates about the SCOTUS Same-Sex Marriage Rulings

Today, SCOTUS changed life for many Americans in its rulings on DOMA and Prop 8. When I heard the news, via Twitter, I was walking into my lab space to interview a woman about orgasms (that’s the life of this research scientist). When the study participant arrived, she and I took a few minutes to acknowledge and talk about the monumental news of the day. Much of the day, I’ve felt on the verge of (happy) tears. I celebrated with a friend over lunch on an outdoor patio. Continue Reading →

How We Profile Women and Men: Or, Are Women Moms and Cooks First, Scientists Second?

Recent discussion on Twitter and various websites has focused on how women scientists are portrayed in the media. The discussion stems from a recent New York Times obituary of rocket scientist Yvonne Brill who died at 88 and was introduced first, in the obituary, (for more, see this Salon article), with this sentence:

“She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. ‘The world’s best mom,’ her son Matthew said.” Later on, they got to the whole “rocket scientist” part (enormously impressive in any era, but especially for the era in which she worked when few women would have been able to demonstrate such skill). The opening was later changed to read:

“She was a brilliant rocket scientist who followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. Continue Reading →