Sexual Behaviors in the Current Era: A Conversation with Debby Herbenick 

Hosted by: David Prescott
Guest Speaker: Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH

Recorded On: August 31, 2022

Dr. Herbenick has led 13 research studies aimed at understanding contemporary sex in the United States. Her work has often included examinations of behaviors (such as “rough sex”) that are outside the more limited scope of other studies. Among her most recent publications are articles on changes in sexual behaviors reported by adults and adolescents. For example, while there have been declines in some areas, such as partnered sex among older and younger people and decreases in solo sex by adolescents, there have been increases in other practices, such as choking sexual partners during sex. In this conversation, Dr. Herbenick describes recent trends and their implications for researchers, educators, and practitioners.

Debby Herbenick, PhD MPH
Director, Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University

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 life 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.

Comments 2

  1. Very timely and looks quite comprehensive. I’m very interested although I will probably have to watch the recorded version since I have another very important commitment at that time. Deeply appreciate the flexibility SaferSociety offers. Thank you so much. Sue

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