September 16th, 2010
10:57 AM ET

Fake pill improved sex drive in women

"Faking it" has long been associated with bad sex for some women, but a new study provides a pleasant twist on that phrase. According to a paper released today in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, the placebo effect may increase sex drive for women suffering from sexual dysfunction.

"It may be that their behavior changed as part of getting treatment, even if the treatment itself was an inert tablet," said Andrea Bradford, lead study author.

It was a small study: 200 women who had been diagnosed with female sexual arousal disorder - difficulty becoming aroused or maintaining sexual activity - participated in a study to find out whether a popular male erectile dysfunction drug - Cialis - could also treat female sexual dysfunction.  The women agreed to engage in sex acts over the course of 12 weeks and keep a diary. Fifty women were chosen at random to receive a placebo rather than the investigational drug.

Prior to each sexual encounter the women took the placebo (a sugar pill) and after the encounter filled out a questionnaire about whether sex was satisfying or whether they had experienced an orgasm.

To qualify for the study, women had to be premenopausal (between 35-55 years of age) and have no medical conditions that could explain their diminished sexual desire (for example, pelvic surgery or a radical hysterectomy).

By the end of the study, researchers discovered that while Cialis did not markedly improve sexual dysfunction in women, one out of three women had their previously low level of desire restored to one considered to be normal with placebo.

"It's not that these women simply believed, 'a sugar pill will help me,'" said Bradford, a post-doctoral fellow at Baylor College of Medicine and the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. "Other elements were probably therapeutic, regardless of the tablet."

Those other elements may be largely psychological, said Bradford - a function of the women simply focusing more attention on their sex lives.

The study raises more questions than it answers, but the idea of a sham medical intervention addressing female sexual dysfunction speaks to the complexities of female sexuality. It may mean that addressing sexual dysfunction among women will never be as simple as prescribing a "little pink pill" (much like the "little blue pill" marketed to men with erectile dysfunction).

"Maybe we're calling something a disease that is not a disease in the same way as diabetes is," said Bradford. "There may be physical causes for lower sexual desire, but one thing that is clear is there's not one cause."

One implied message in the study: A psychological investment in improving their sex life could obviate the need for a drug for some women.

"It would be great if we had a drug but it may not be your only hope and there may be some real simple steps you can take toward improving your sex life that don't need to involve medication," said Bradford.

« Previous entry
soundoff (397 Responses)
  1. rv alignment shops near me

    Saved as a favorite, I love your website!


    May 14, 2021 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. rv fiberglass repair shops

    You have made some decent points there. I looked on the net to learn more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.


    May 14, 2021 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. socal upholstery

    This is a topic that is close to my heart... Best wishes! Where are your contact details though?


    May 14, 2021 at 18:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. 2014 Maserati Quattroporte Gts For Sale


    May 15, 2021 at 00:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. real estate for sale sandpoint


    May 15, 2021 at 04:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Maserati Merak

    Your style is so unique compared to other people I have read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this web site.


    May 15, 2021 at 09:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Arizona Vision


    May 15, 2021 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Optometrist Near Me


    May 15, 2021 at 15:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. 2018 Maserati Levante S Granlusso


    May 15, 2021 at 17:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. box truck body repair


    May 15, 2021 at 20:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. oc truck shop


    May 15, 2021 at 20:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Digital Marketing Specialists

    This site definitely has all of the information I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 16, 2021 at 02:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. how to play on private aika server


    May 16, 2021 at 05:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Repair Body Rust On Sprinter Van


    May 16, 2021 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. progressive repair center


    May 16, 2021 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Sprinter Service


    May 16, 2021 at 11:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. best rv repair


    May 16, 2021 at 12:33 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6

Leave a Reply to OhLordy


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

« Previous entry
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.