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

Love Isn’t a Picnic. But You Knew That Already. (Right?)

As I wrote in a previous post, many questions that people ask me about love/sex/relationships center around people being afraid of messy situations (e.g., of falling for someone who is in a relationship, newly out of a relationship, divorced with kids, lives in a far away city, is someone who your siblings/parents/best friends don’t like, etc). And basically I believe that if you really like someone and think you might want to give it a try, you should, because life is messy (and I think that’s okay) and waiting for a sanitized Hollywood romance may mean you will be waiting a long time, or forever. It might also mean missing out on immense richnesses and joys in life. One spiritual teacher, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, even said that “chaos should be regarded as extremely good news.” Make of that what you will. Continue Reading →

Things I’m Grateful For Today

Yesterday and today I’ve been sick which is not common for me. I have some sort of stomach virus that’s been making me achy and causing some minor stomach pains that are enough to make me not want to eat and not well enough to stay all day at the office. They’re also enough to make me feel grateful for all the days – nearly every day in a calendar year – that I am well enough to go to work, to eat nearly anything I like, and to feel healthy and vibrant. Thinking this today is what prompted me to write my most recent list of things I’m grateful for. In addition to family, friends, education, and work, I am grateful for:

- Living near a park. Continue Reading →

Q&A: How Can I Find a Sex Therapist in the Washington DC Area?

How can I find a sex therapist in the DC area who would be willing to help a gay couple work out their sexual issues together? Start by checking out the SSTAR directory:  http://www.sstarnet.org/therapist-directory.php

And the AASECT directory (www.aasect.org). (search by DC area or check out Virginia, Maryland if those make sense)

Honestly, the best thing to do is usually to peruse their sites, see to what extent they seem to fit with one’s own style, maybe even call or have an initial consult, etc. I think therapist-client fit is one of
the most important things. The sex therapists I know tend to be skilled at helping couples of all orientations but you can get a better sense for whether you think they’re the right fit for you as a couple if you go and meet them. Continue Reading →

Please Join Me in Supporting Tornado Victims in Indiana & Beyond

In 1992, my family and I suffered significant losses to our home, and significant shifts to our lives, following Hurricane Andrew. We experienced more damage to our home than some people we knew and significantly less damage than many people we saw on the news (particularly those living in the Homestead area of South Florida). Even so, it was months before we were able to return to our home – and years before I could gather the ability to drive south down US1 toward Homestead. Perhaps for this reason, I feel particular empathy for people whose lives have been shifted by natural disasters, such as the recent tornados that swept through several states including Indiana, where I live. [Bloomington, the town I've called home for a number of years now, was somehow - and quite thankfully - spared from this mess.] Following the news closely, I’ve been particularly touched by the stories of:

- A 20 month old toddler who was found in critical condition in a field about 10 miles from her home in Salem, Indiana. Continue Reading →

Required Reading on Women’s Health

You need to read this op-ed, “When States Abuse Women” by Nicholas Kristof, in the NY Times. It covers current issues like mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds occurring prior to abortion (which Virginia finally removed from their legislation but Texas still has) as well as issues related to contraception. Included in the article are points such as this:

“If Texas legislators wanted to reduce abortions, the obvious approach would be to reduce unwanted pregnancies. The small proportion of women and girls who aren’t using contraceptives account for half of all abortions in America, according to Guttmacher. Yet Texas has some of the weakest sex-education programs in the nation, and last year it cut spending for family planning by 66 percent.” 

and this:

“The best formulation on this topic was Bill Clinton’s, that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” Continue Reading →

Rachel Maddow Explains Human Biology, Birth Control, Sex

Rachel Maddow shows 3 days worth of clips during which Rush Limbaugh calls Sandra Fluke a slut and prostitute and asks her to post images of her having sex online. She also teaches people how birth control and sex actually work (move forward to around 13:00 for her very valuable lesson). I like when she gets flustered about how ignorant Limbaugh is about how  birth control works. I also like when she says “You being a dummy is a way bigger problem than you being a jerk.” In the bigger picture, Mr. Limbaugh was reacting to Fluke’s commentary in support of contraception coverage (by the way: birth control is free or highly affordable in many, many developed and developing countries). Continue Reading →

On Being Vulnerable in Life & Love

Life can certainly be serendipitous. Without trying or looking, I happened upon this TEDx Houston video about vulnerability. There’s a moment early on when Brene Brown pokes fun at the “life is messy, learn to love it” people – ironic given my recent “life is messy (and that’s okay)” post. Not surprisingly, Dr. Brown finds that life is indeed messy and that it’s in the messiness – and specifically in being vulnerable to life, and being courageous enough to be open to the mess – that people find their whole hearts and their most beautiful, authentic experiences of living. She talks about being willing to try relationships that may or may not work out. Continue Reading →

Q&A: Can birth control affect vaginal lubrication or wetness?

Can birth control affect vaginal lubrication (amount/decrease)? Answer:

Most likely, yes, but there aren’t any very good studies on it. The latest generations of oral contraceptives (birth control pills) have very low estrogen and as estrogen is linked to vaginal lubrication, it makes sense that they’d be
linked. And certainly a number of young women/college students talk about having less wetness after going on the pill. I hear this often from my students. Also, medical doctors I know in the field of sexual medicine and gynecology believe they’re linked…. Continue Reading →