Placebo and Sex Drive

Here’s evidence of the powerful mind-body connection surrounding arousal and desire. At least for women. About one-third of women given a placebo pill to treat a low libido reported improvements in their sex lives.
After drugs like Viagra and Cialis revolutionized the treatment of male sexual dysfunction in the late 1990s, a flurry of clinical trials were conducted in women in the hopes that the drugs could do the same to revive a woman’s flagging sex drive.

The drugs flopped in women. But recently, researchers went back and looked at the old data and found that about 35 percent of women given the placebo pill experienced significant improvement in psychological aspects of sex such as desire. In addition, many reported improvements in the physical aspects of arousal, including better lubrication, more frequent orgasms or more easily attainable orgasms.

The lead researcher suspects the improvements were due to several aspects of the study — the hope that the pill might be working plus speaking with medical professionals about sex, thinking about sex and trying to have better sex. In other words just the act of attending to their sex lives was very therapeutic for some women.

The study is published in the the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

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