Debby Herbenick

Debby Herbenick
Indiana University Bloomington | IUB · Department of Applied Health Science

PhD, MPH
Professor at the Indiana University School of Public Health and an AASECT-certified sex educator.

About

285
Publications
152,134
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
6,224
Citations
Additional affiliations
October 2014 - present
Indiana University Bloomington
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
August 2006 - present
Indiana University Bloomington
Position
  • Co-Director

Publications

Publications (285)
Article
Background: A growing body of research focuses on the quality of sexual experiences, such as the importance of sexual pleasure, comfort, and intimacy for overall health. Building upon this work, this study aims to develop a deeper understanding of the dimensions of sexual experiences using data from 2897 adult participants from the 2018 National S...
Article
Full-text available
Although sexual choking is now prevalent, little is known about how people engage in choking in terms of frequency, intensity, method, or potential health sequelae. In a campus-representative survey of undergraduate and graduate students, we aimed to: (1) describe the prevalence of ever having choked/been choked as part of sex; (2) examine the char...
Article
Full-text available
Vulvar inflammatory dermatoses (VID; e.g., lichen sclerosus, lichen planus, vulvar dermatitis) can significantly impact sexual function. Both vulvar and non-vulvar inflammatory dermatoses (NVID; i.e., skin conditions not impacting vulvar skin, such as non-genital psoriasis and eczema/dermatitis) have yet to be fully characterized with regard to imp...
Article
Full-text available
IntroductionUsing data from the 2018 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, we determined the prevalence and content of adolescents’ and young adults’ communication with healthcare providers about condom use.Methods Adolescents (14–17 years old; n = 283) and young adults (18–24 years old, n = 225), who discussed sexual health with a healthc...
Article
Full-text available
Being strangled, or “choked,” by a sexual partner has emerged as a prevalent, often wanted and consensual sexual behavior among adolescent and young adult women, yet the neurological consequences of repeated exposure to this behavior are unknown. The objective of the study was to examine the association between a history of repeated, recent choking...
Article
Sexual choking, which is a form of strangulation, can lead to various health consequences, including death. Recent surveys suggest that sexual choking is prevalent among young U.S. adults, a demographic also likely to view pornography. Pornography professionals, social commentators, and scholars have noted that mixed-gender choking is normative in...
Article
The ills of modeling variables substantively involved in a causal process as “controls” have been discussed extensively by social scientists who do not study media. Until recently, Slater was one of the few communication scientists to suggest that media effects scholars engage in overcontrol. Bushman and Anderson have now echoed this concern in the...
Article
Full-text available
Solo and partnered sexual behaviors are relevant to health, well-being, and relationships. Recent research shows that sexual frequency has declined in the U.S. and in other countries; however, measurement has been imprecise. We used data from 14- to 49-year-old participants in the 2009 and 2018 waves of the National Survey of Sexual Health and Beha...
Article
One of the most consistent findings in content analyses of popular, commonly consumed pornography is the near absence of condoms. A recent meta-analysis found that pornography use is associated with an increased likelihood of condomless sex, but the studies available for analysis rarely included measures of potential cognitive mediators underlying...
Article
Full-text available
Using data from 2069 romantically involved, randomly sampled, college students (53.8% female; mean age = 20.29; 74.6% White non-Hispanic; 83.0% heterosexual) we examined the prevalence of sexting and sexting interest with current romantic partners. Most students sexted with their current partners (55.3%), 8.9% did not sext but wanted to, 1.9% did n...
Article
Full-text available
Choking/strangulation during sex is prevalent among young adults, with one study finding that 58% of women college students had ever been choked during sex. However, no qualitative study has examined women’s experiences with choking/strangulation during sex outside of intimate partner violence. The purpose of our qualitative interview study was to...
Article
Objective: Present study aims to: 1) examine demographic correlates of LGB, asexual, or not sure participants 2) describe the prevalence of diverse sexual behaviors, 3) assess the prevalence of event-level sexual behaviors and 4) examine predictors of sexual pleasure. Participants: 761 non-heterosexual undergraduates at a large, public U.S. univ...
Article
Full-text available
Using data from a 2014 U.S. nationally representative probability survey and a 2014 content analysis of 2562 male–female videos from two popular pornographic websites, this study aimed to: (1) compare the prevalence of survey respondents’ event-level sexual behaviors with those depicted in mainstream pornography online videos; (2) compare event-lev...
Article
The purpose of this study was to investigate how various subgroups based on gender, sexual identity, and political ideology conceptualize rough sex. We used available data from a 2020 survey of randomly sampled undergraduate students at a large public university in the Midwestern U.S. (n = 4,989). The dichotomous responses to 13 items on the rough...
Article
Full-text available
Low sexual desire in women partnered with men is typically presumed to be a problem—one that exists in women and encourages a research agenda on causation and treatment targeting women. In this paper, we present a distinct way forward for research on low sexual desire in women partnered with men that attends to a more structural explanation: hetero...
Article
Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate challenges women face before inflammatory vulvar dermatosis diagnosis to guide interventions for improving time to diagnosis and health care experiences. Materials and methods: The present analysis was part of a larger study exploring sexual health and quality of life of women with vulvar a...
Article
Full-text available
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, most U.S. colleges closed their campuses—including residence halls—causing significant disruption to students’ lives. Two waves of data were collected from undergraduate students enrolled at a large U.S. Midwestern university: Wave 1 was a confidential online survey of 4989 randomly sampled undergraduate studen...
Article
Choking/strangulation during sex has become prevalent in the United States. Yet, no qualitative research has addressed men’s choking experiences. Through interviews with 21 young adult men, we examined the language men use to refer to choking, how they first learned about it, their experiences with choking, and consent and safety practices. Men lea...
Preprint
Full-text available
Being choked/strangled during a partnered sex is an emerging sexual behavior, particularly prevalent among adolescent and young adult women, but the neurobiological impact of choking remains unknown. This case-control study aimed to test whether frequent choking during sex influences neurological health in young adult women, as assessed by serum le...
Article
Many researchers interested In the socializing effects of pornography have found heuristic utility in the sexual script acquisition, activation, application model (3AM) of mediated sexual socialization. Studies have emphasized overall pornography/sexual behavior associations, however, rather than mediating sexual beliefs that a 3AM perspective sugg...
Article
Little is known about skin tone and skin color representation within sexuality education materials. A content analysis was performed to assess skin tone and skin color diversity among anatomical images (n = 182) within eight contemporary, college-level human sexuality textbooks. Of these images, 1.1% represented dark skin tones while 83.5% represen...
Article
This study examined U.S. adolescents’ pornography consumption, pornography dependency, and belief in a variety of notions contradicted by basic sexological science. Data were from 595 youth aged 14–18 who participated in a population-based probability survey. Consistent with the sexual script acquisition, activation, application model (3AM) of sexu...
Article
Objective: We explored college students' sexual pleasure using a new self-report measure, the Body, Emotions, Sensations, Touch/Trust (B.E.S.T.) Scale of Sexual Pleasure. Participants: Data were from 3997 randomly sampled students with a partnered sexual experience. Methods: Students completed an online survey about their most recent partnered sex...
Article
HIV service providers are the primary implementers of HIV care services, but rural HIV service providers are under researched. We used an interpretative phenomenological analysis to explore rural HIV service providers' lived experiences of working in HIV care, who work in a rural region of a Midwestern state in the United States. From July to Augus...
Article
Choking/strangulation during sex is prevalent among young adults in the United States. We examined associations between having ever been choked and participants’ current mental health symptoms (e.g., feeling depressed, anxious, sad, lonely) in the prior 30 days and in the prior year. Participants were 4352 randomly sampled undergraduates who comple...
Article
Objective To determine the prevalence of long-distance relationships (LDRs) among college students and explore how relationship dynamics differed between LDRs and geographically close relationships (GCRs). Participants Data were from romantically involved students (N = 2075) who participated in the 2020 College Sexual Health Survey. Methods Stude...
Article
Sexual pleasure is best attained through facilitating access to the highest standard of health. Today global data show a persistent high burden of sexual health issues. Yet, pleasure remains a sensitive, stigmatized, and unspoken topic in healthcare services. This article examines how to incorporate a value for pleasure into healthcare services, gr...
Article
Full-text available
Compared to studies on sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy prevention, sexual pleasure has received limited attention in the adolescent sexual development literature. In the present study, we used data from 157 adolescents (66 females; 14 to 17 years old), with a partnered sexual experience in the past 12 months to explore adolescents’ se...
Article
Background Compulsive sexual behavior (CSB) is a clinical syndrome that causes significant distress and impairment for many individuals in the United States. Gay men are thought to have a higher prevalence of CSB, and it is associated with many relevant health outcomes including HIV risk behavior. Aim To estimate the prevalence and examine demogra...
Article
Full-text available
Prior research has described women’s experiences with exercise-induced orgasm (EIO). However, little is known about men’s experiences with EIO, the population prevalence of EIO, or the association of EIO with other kinds of orgasm. Using U.S. probability survey data, the objectives of the present research were to: (1) describe the lifetime prevalen...
Article
While recent meta-analyses have provided answers to a number of historically contentious debates about correlates of pornography use, several questions remain unanswered. Whether pornography is associated with sexual functioning is one such question. Informed by theorizing on sexual scripting, social comparisons, and sexual objectification, the pre...
Article
Objective: In a random sample of undergraduate students, we aimed to: (1) establish the prevalence of choking and being choked; (2) examine demographic and situational predictors of being choked, and (3) examine demographic and situational predictors of choking someone. Participants: 4168 randomly sampled undergraduates at a large public U.S. univ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose To estimate the prevalence of depression and loneliness during the US COVID-19 response, and examine their associations with frequency of social and sexual connections. Methods We conducted an online cross-sectional survey of a nationally representative sample of American adults (n = 1010), aged 18–94, running from April 10–20, 2020. We as...
Article
Full-text available
This paper reports findings on men's exposure to extreme pornography, impersonal sexuality, and sexual aggression from the National Survey of Porn Use, Relationships, and Sexual Socialization, a U.S. population-based probability study. Despite Malamuth's confluence model (CM) of sexual aggression positing that an impersonal approach to sex interact...
Article
Background Probability-based surveys of college students typically assess sexual behaviors such as oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Little is known about the broader range of sexual behaviors in which students engage. Aims In a random sample survey of undergraduate students, we aimed to: (1) describe how recently participants had engaged in solo and p...
Article
Pornography consumption is becoming more prevalent and may be a source of sexual learning for some users. Because popular male-female pornography rarely includes condoms, communication researchers have hypothesized that pornography use increases the likelihood of condomless sex in mixed sex encounters. A recent meta-analysis supported this predicti...
Article
This community-based study explored the lived experiences of being in and going through the rural HIV care continuum among 15 gay and bisexual men (GBM) with HIV who live in a rural area of a Midwestern state. Our analysis adapted a six-step interpretative phenomenological analysis. Five themes emerged that reflected the five continuum stages: 1) D...
Article
Research finding that pornography use is associated with lower sexual satisfaction is common; evaluation of the mechanisms hypothesized as underlying the association is not. Informed by multiple theoretical perspectives, the present study tested a conceptual model positing that (a) regularly consuming pornography conditions the user’s arousal templ...
Article
Background Many women who inject drugs are aware of the associated risks, however social influences play a part in their behavioral decisions. Incorporation of others in drug use behaviors may be common practice among women who use drugs. The aim of this study was to gain an in-depth understanding of women’s injection drug use experiences with a fo...
Article
Full-text available
Using data from an undergraduate probability sample, we aimed to: (1) describe the prevalence and demographic characteristics of students who reported having engaged in rough sex with their current partner; (2) assess which sexual behaviors students consider to be rough sex; (3) describe the frequency with which participants report engaging in roug...
Article
Objectives: Sexual satisfaction is an important component of sexual health and wellbeing across the life course, including adolescence. While research on pornography use and sexual satisfaction has become increasingly common, the vast majority of studies have focused on adults. An additional limitation of studies to date is a lack of assessment of...
Article
Sexual aggression is now widely recognized as a public health crisis. Using the sexual script acquisition, activation, application model (3AM) as a guide, this paper reports findings on U.S. teenagers' exposure to pornography, motivation for viewing pornography, perceptions of pornography's realism, identification with pornographic actors, and sexu...
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of this study was to estimate the prevalence of sexual behaviors and experiences of Black women's partnered behaviors at their most recent sexual event. Data were from a subset of 980 Black women ages 18 to 92 who participated in the 2018 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior. Findings provide a sex-positive view of Black women...
Article
Full-text available
We analyzed cross-sectional data collected from a U.S. nationally representative survey of individuals ages 14–24 years old on what sources of information from the past year they considered to be the most helpful about how to have sex (n = 600 adolescents ages 14–17 years old, and n = 666 young adults ages 18–24 years old). Among the 324 adolescent...
Article
Objectives To describe long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) users’ knowledge, patient-provider interactions, and condom use associated with LARC use. Methods: Data are from the 2018 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, a probability survey of Americans aged 14–49. Results: Of 1,451 sexually active women, 11.2% used intrauterine dev...
Article
Research dedicated to understanding the sexual experiences of Black women has historically been framed around adverse outcomes. There are limited data that can be used to understand the lived experiences of Black women related to sexual health care. Twenty-five Black women aged 18- 35 from across nine US states were interviewed to gain insight into...
Article
We explored the associations of gender expression with childhood gender expression, sexual identity, and demographic characteristics in a representative sample of the U.S. population aged 18 to 65 years (N = 1277), using data from the 2015 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior. As expected, gay men were less gender conforming than heterosex...
Article
Full-text available
In early 2020, the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) spread across the United States and mitigation measures drastically affected the daily lives of Americans. In this study, we assessed the association between COVID-related relationship conflict and changes in intimate and sexual behaviors and experiences. Using data from an online nationally repr...
Article
Purpose National practice guidelines encourage providers address sexual and reproductive health (SRH) as part of all clinical encounters with adolescents. Yet, no studies provide nationally representative estimates of how frequently adolescents are screened. Methods Data were adolescent participants (aged 14–17 years; N = 826) in the 2018 National...
Article
Purpose The purpose of this study was to describe whether adolescent and young adult patients truthfully disclose sexual activity to providers during a sexual history and explore associations between disclosure and receipt of recommended services. Methods Data from the 2018 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior were used to describe self-r...
Article
Background In the United States, efforts to achieve health equity and reduce sexual health disparities remain a national priority; however, limited research has focused on understanding racial differences in patient/provider discussions about sexual health. Aim To quantify racial differences between black and white women (aged 18–49 years) in the...
Article
Objective To examine the prevalence of student utilization of campus sexual health resources and their association with sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing. Participants: Undergraduate students (n = 7020) at a large Midwestern university completed a confidential online survey in 2015. Methods: A probability-based sample of undergraduate st...
Article
Full-text available
Importance Sexual relationships are important for well-being and health. Recent trends in sexual activity among US adults are unknown. Objectives To examine trends in reported frequency of sexual activity and number of sexual partners by sex and age and the association between measures of sexual activity and sociodemographic variables. Design, Se...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Research demonstrates that pandemics adversely impact sexual and reproductive health (SRH), but few have examined their impact on participation in sex. We examined self-reported changes in solo and sexual behaviors in U.S. adults during early stages of the public health response to COVID-19. Methods: We conducted an online, nationally r...
Preprint
Full-text available
Purpose: To estimate the prevalence of depression and loneliness during the US COVID-19 response, and examine their associations with frequency of social and sexual connections. Methods: We conducted an online cross-sectional survey of a nationally representative sample of American adults (n=1010), aged 18-94, running from April 10-20, 2020. We ass...
Article
Sexual health and intimacy take on a new meaning for men after sustaining a spinal cord injury (SCI), biologically and psychologically. Yet, the majority of sexual health information provided during the rehabilitation process focuses on loss of muscle movement, erectile response, and orgasm with little therapeutic interventions focusing on intimacy...
Article
Objective: Most studies on agreeing to unwanted sex have assessed sexual encounters between people who have had sex before. Thus, we examined instances of sexual compliance with a novel sexual partner. Participants: A probability sample of college students at a university in the Midwest United States (N = 7,112). Methods: Participants completed an...
Article
Full-text available
This lesson plan is designed to help participants learn how to partner with their healthcare providers to improve their sexual health. This lesson plan describes how to achieve this goal with cis-gender Black adolescent girls and adult women (ages 16 and older).
Article
Background: Convenience sample data indicate that substantial portions of adults have engaged in sexual behaviors sometimes described as rough; little is known about these behaviors at the population level. Aim: To describe, in a U.S. probability sample of Americans aged 18 to 60 years, (i) the prevalence of diverse sexual behaviors, described h...
Article
Full-text available
Limited research has examined sexual victimization among U.S. college men, and particularly fraternity men. We report the prevalence of sexual assault (SA) victimization among a sample of college fraternity members and the sociodemographic variables associated with this victimization. In April 2018, we conducted a web-based survey study among a ran...
Article
Full-text available
This lesson plan is designed to help students understand and debunk myths and stereotypes about African American/Black women and their sexual lives. This lesson plan is intended for adult learners.
Article
Consistent and correct use of contraceptives and barrier methods are effective ways to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancy. We examined contraceptive and barrier use among a sample of 27 sexual- and gender-minoritized individuals assigned female at birth (SGMF) in three cities in India. Contraceptive and barrier...
Article
Using data from 600 adolescents (14-17 years old) from the 2015 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, we examined the prevalence and demographic correlates of adolescents’ romantic activities (ie, group dating, dyadic dating, and relationship involvement) and their confidence in avoiding unwanted romantic experiences. Overall, 55.8% of ado...
Article
Full-text available
We aimed to assess, among a U.S. probability sample of adult women: (1) the prevalence of, and reasons given for, faking and no longer faking orgasm, (2) women’s histories of sexual non-communication and reasons for non-communication, (3) associations between sexual non-communication and sexual satisfaction and faking orgasm, (4) associations betwe...
Article
Objectives: To explore perceptions of condoms associated with complete use and evaluate relationships between condom perceptions, condom use, and sexual quality. Methods: Using data from a U. S. nationally representative probability sample, we assessed individuals’ condom use perceptions and related characteristics of their most recent sexual event...
Article
Full-text available
We seek to clarify and assess the underlying moral reasons for opposing all medically unnecessary genital cutting of female minors, no matter how severe. We find that within a Western medicolegal framework, these reasons are compelling. However, they do not only apply to female minors, but rather to non-consenting persons of any age irrespective of...
Article
Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) individuals’ (nonheterosexual or noncisgender) desires and intentions to form families have been under‐researched. Further, research on family formation among SGM individuals is even more scant in India. Family formation, a significant milestone for many individuals, has important implications for overall health. Us...
Article
Full-text available
Background: While gay and bisexual men (GBM) represent the largest group of HIV-infected individuals in the United States (U.S.), nearly all evidence on their HIV risk and prevention outcomes derive from non-probability samples. Setting: A probability-based cohort of GBM (N=502) from 45 states and Washington, D.C. Methods: Cross-sectional surv...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction: Although much research has examined correlates of pain during sex, far less research has examined why women have sex despite having pain and why they avoid telling their partner. Aim: The purpose of our study was to examine women's reports of painful sex, including location of pain, whether they told their partner, factors associat...