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.

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soundoff (852 Responses)
  1. Doctor Fallus

    The solution for women with sexual dysfunction disorder is quiet simple and as old as human kind:
    Men need to behave and appear more attractive to arouse them.
    And women need to feel like their seuxual partner cares about them deeper than their outside appearance.

    Our self-centered society doesn't produce much of either of those basic requirements.

    Men have it a lot easier....

    September 16, 2010 at 19:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • stevensw

      Not true at all, a man has to work his tail off to get female attention. He has to look good, be successful, make all the right moves, rehearse, and so forth. A woman just needs to remember to brush her hair in the morning, she can even be fat and ugly and still get a good looking mate, and be the dumbest broad on the block. Men have it FAR harder.

      September 16, 2010 at 19:58 | Report abuse |
  2. Bob

    Mind over matter.. much of big Pharma"s meds are placebos.. Than these companies do the research and say to consumers this stuff worked in OUR Clinical trials.. Expensive placebos with nasty side-effects..

    September 16, 2010 at 19:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DavidTrueDough

      Enzyte Bob why are you always smiling? Buy my book.......What doctors don't want you to know! $19.99 Become Empowered....I will throw in my newest book about "debt cures" for just shipping and handling charges..Hee-Hee
      Trust meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee...

      September 16, 2010 at 19:37 | Report abuse |
  3. Cheryl

    Placebo effect works with my kids AND my grandparents....administering just about anything and telling them what it will do, mind you with conviction, works! Every single time!

    Article is a waste of time. Cialis is making enough $, dude...Cheryl in Austell!

    September 16, 2010 at 19:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Faisal

    f_ck every single one of you

    September 16, 2010 at 19:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • toxic_haiku

      Is that what you want to do to all of us? You must have downed a mouthful of those fake pills.

      September 16, 2010 at 22:40 | Report abuse |
  5. shonti

    It has been said, and I largely agree, that there are no "frigid," unresponsive women. Only incompetent men. It's a shame that a lot of women can't speak up in bed for fear of hurting their partner's feelings, to tell them what works and what doesn't. Men aren't mindreaders but I wish they were. A great-in-bed guy does wonders for a woman with a low sex drive.

    September 16, 2010 at 19:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • stevensw

      you just proved that women 'are' frigid, men have to be mindreaders. A man could always get off, even on an ugly woman. We don't even need the woman to do a darn thing, not even take off her clothes. For a woman to be pleased, a man must climb the highest mountain, swim the deepest ocean, etc. And still they aren't pleased. Women are impossible to please.

      September 16, 2010 at 19:55 | Report abuse |
  6. mdyer

    The women are faking it.

    September 16, 2010 at 19:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Magick727

    In related news "fake boobs" were discovered to increase sex drive in men.

    September 16, 2010 at 20:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. stevensw

    women will never understand the reason men don't talk to them is because they are not interesting, other than their body. if you actually have something to talk about, we'll care about something other than your hooters. women say the dumbest things...

    September 16, 2010 at 20:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Teresa

      @stevensw, "men" like you are why we have stables of toys in our homes, they make you totally irrelevant.

      September 17, 2010 at 13:11 | Report abuse |
  9. Elin Woods

    There is a pill?...................... I need it ....Where can I buy this pill I just received a large divorce settlement......

    September 16, 2010 at 20:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Elin Woods

    My ex-husband said he suffered from sexual addiction ...is this not true?....Elizabeth Cohen can you look into for me so I can become empowered too?

    September 16, 2010 at 20:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Ines Sainz

    Woman in the states need a pill?...ha ha ha....Viva la mexico.......Where are the men's locker rooms? woo-hoo!!!

    September 16, 2010 at 20:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hungry Man


      September 17, 2010 at 12:13 | Report abuse |
  12. AJ

    I am a women and fortunately have never had a problem in that department. Personally I think the problem is with the women most of the time. Women don't masturbate enough. Women should explore their bodies and be able to pleasure themselves Then they could tell their partner how to pleasure them. They should also fantasize more. Women don't give themselves permission to be sexual. Don't wait for society to tell you it's OK honey liberate yourself sexually!

    September 16, 2010 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jillejo

      I totally agree AJ. One can also assume that the partner of said females could be lacking in that department as well. There is no bigger turn-off than a groping grunting gorilla!

      September 16, 2010 at 20:35 | Report abuse |
    • Maynard

      A very wise person once told me: 90% of your sex life comes from between your ears, not between your legs. One other thing though is how was the woman raised? Was she raised and educated in a family where sex of any kind was looked at as "dirty" or was she maybe raised to see sex as for procreation only. These kinds of environments can do a lifetime worth of damage to an otherwise healthy, happy well adjusted individual. True, women should learn and explore more about themselves, but sometimes their minds have been so messed up when they were growing up that it takes a lifetime to get oneself straightened out.

      September 17, 2010 at 04:07 | Report abuse |
  13. Harpoon

    more proof that women are retarded

    September 16, 2010 at 20:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. SoCalMatt

    The cure for female sexual dysfunction has been around forever....it's called alcohol!

    September 16, 2010 at 20:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. F. Lee Hall

    I am not surprised. Most of the women I have met in my life (from executives to house wives) are fake and unable to connect without a profit incentive.

    September 16, 2010 at 20:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Uncle Bob

    Taking a pill is like getting permission, I'd love to meet these gals!!! They know what they want, just another way to get it. more power to them!!!

    September 16, 2010 at 20:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. corkpuller

    Wow! These responses are long. Wonder why? LOL Once a woman gives herself permission to let go shut up and hang on.

    September 16, 2010 at 20:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. schmity

    So this proves what we already know, (most women are insane)!!!!!!!!!!

    September 16, 2010 at 20:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. CrazyAcidLady

    yes we throw acid on ourselves.........If that does not define cRAZY I don't know what is...So there is a pill now?

    September 16, 2010 at 21:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. NOTESO

    I am not surprised. They fake orgasm all the time anyway. So a fake pills increasing their sex drives is not that strange.
    Me so horny , me love you long time. I still love them though.

    September 16, 2010 at 21:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Dr. G

    As usual, it's all in their heads.

    September 16, 2010 at 21:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Paul

    Predictable... women say men can't please them even though sex is mutual... meaning in reality women don't know how to contribute to sex in ways that satisfy themselves. It's a mental block.

    September 16, 2010 at 22:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Sherri

    I couldn't care less about sex. I'm 44 years old now, but I've felt that way since I was a teenager. Extremely overrated.

    September 16, 2010 at 22:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. toxic_haiku

    What did this test prove? Everyone knows that sex hangups are all in a woman's head.

    September 16, 2010 at 22:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Bubbabuie

    I have found the perfect cure for my wife's low libido........a neighbor who works late and who's wife has a high livido.

    September 16, 2010 at 23:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Motley

    Goes to show that women are more of headcases and half their issues are in their heads,.... and us men are suppossed to understand what is going on, when many of the issues are in their heads??? Sorry but you need to be a psychologist to have a decent relationship is what I found with women,....

    September 16, 2010 at 23:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Sexistman

    Obviously women just lie and can't be trusted with these simple tests.

    September 17, 2010 at 00:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. treeman

    Aah, yes AJ....! Besides learning what feels good to themselves, It's a huuuge turn-on to some of us to WATCH a female do that stuff. ;D ;D Seriously.

    September 17, 2010 at 00:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BB

      HA, I love to watch my wife. We both get turned on that way

      September 17, 2010 at 00:42 | Report abuse |
  29. wann2know

    Faking ergasm is all part of faking living. So now a nice pill to not fake ergasm, and continue to fake living. Cool modern.

    September 17, 2010 at 01:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. kouhii

    For women it's all in the big mind and for men it's all in the small mind...

    September 17, 2010 at 01:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. george

    What do you mean women have low sex drives!no they dont!their the ones buying out all the sex toys and need more powerful ones built,they arer the ones taking off their clothes first in porn, they have that equipment to do so and all they have to do to make millions is spread their legs! rough life! now if you give them some pill to increase their apetites watchout world there will be increased porn,prostituting,incest,teachers doing the students,the sex toy business will boom,high dollar call girls,more strip clubs,all the black men will be happier cause more white trash girls will go to them,and for chrissakes lock up all the animals from you hoes!all of you are. you just want more money,drugs etc. to support your nasty cracks!

    September 17, 2010 at 01:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Teresa

      Hahaha, do you have that Catholic Madonna-Whore thing going on?

      September 17, 2010 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
  32. Help

    Hey guys, will you visit SaveStan.ORG a friend of mine with 4 young babies is fighting for his life…… thanks.

    September 17, 2010 at 01:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. unretired05

    I think everyone is missing the point. The point is that sugar is an aphrodisiac. That's why a box of candy was always a standard gift for your date.

    September 17, 2010 at 01:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. VegasRage

    @unretired05 Bravo, it's also why alcohol is still the best way to get some good action.

    September 17, 2010 at 02:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. worzcu

    IT WAS A PLACEBO.... and they're saying it worked better for females than the real drug. So the women are thinking, "I'm on a drug that makes my more aroused, so I should be." They were not on anything.... I find this funny that humans (women in particular in this study) are so easily influenced by nothing... in that it changed their sexual feelings. ITS ALL IN YOUR HEAD!!! HELLO!?!?? So this concludes that if ppl just changed their stupid mind-sets... they would not need to take "drugs," to hellp.... which aren't really drugs. Depression medication is the same way. I feel it is one of the most over-prescribed medications of all...

    September 17, 2010 at 02:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Tia

    Hey, give any woman sugar and they will have more energy ! A placebo is not a placebo. Sugar has some profound effects on the brain, really.

    September 17, 2010 at 02:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. laughingdragon

    There's confusion about "desire" versus capacity to orgasm. Desire comes for changes in testosterone level. capacity to orgasm does depend on Nitrous oxide levels, male or female. But woman have a confounding factor 'they are usually socialized with negative attitudes towards sex. Beeause they have so much more. risk" in having sex. Because they can get pregnant , because they are smaller and can be bullied, and because they have time limits iin reproductive capacity But also because, like Ginger Rodgers, who danced backwards and in high heels, women usually must accomodate a partner with a hair trigger orgasmic reflex while their's is slower & less certain. Physically,a guy is built to have sex, deliver sperm and that's it.Where women are built to have sex, get sperm,carry a baby, deliver a baby, and nurse and care for that baby until it's at least three.Life is not fair , it's just better than it used to be.

    September 17, 2010 at 02:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • johnnyhouse

      time you explain all this they will be gone.

      September 17, 2010 at 09:51 | Report abuse |
  38. RigidPrinciples

    Have these scientists tried stimulating the clitoris yes ?

    September 17, 2010 at 03:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • skinnaprik

      they use olive oil and their tongues to do that.

      September 17, 2010 at 07:17 | Report abuse |
  39. Charlotte Crist

    I was prescribed the male enhancement drug Cialis three years back and was told to only take 1/2 of a whole pill...The Dr. told me, "It will either work, or it won't"...It didn't. Why is it so tough to find something that will work for a female...?

    September 17, 2010 at 04:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • StarsShine

      "It will either work, or it won't." Laugh!

      September 17, 2010 at 05:27 | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      Charlotte... find yourself a good ob/gyn that will prescribe you a 2% testosterone cream. Go with the cream, not the pills. Take everyday as directed, and give it a good 2-3 weeks. I've seen this work wonders:).

      September 17, 2010 at 19:05 | Report abuse |
  40. OhLordy

    1) So the placebo far outperformed the drug being tested, huh? Sounds like the execution of the experiment was flawed. If the drug has no real effect, it should perform at the same level as the placebo, not statistically significantly lower. Unless the article is mistaken (very possible), the two kinds of pills either looked different, tasted different, or got mixed up with each other somehow.
    2) @about half the people responding to this article – As a slut, I can tell you, even though it's not 1980 any more, most men STILL don't know what a clitoris is, they just heard the word on TV. Sorry to report.
    3) Somehow when I try to show them pictures of one on the internet they don't take kindly to instruction? So, yeah. Better to throw the guy back into the sea and pick another one. Why waste the time?
    4) After all, guys are not really human beings, just toys for me to have sex with.

    September 17, 2010 at 04:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Epidi

    Now why did they have to go & tell me my pills really don't work! #%$#$#$!!!

    September 17, 2010 at 04:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. For Goodness Sake

    Uh, "ohlordy", no toy is going to know what a clitoris is.

    It's all in your head.

    Just sayin'

    September 17, 2010 at 04:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • OhLordy

      Thank you for putting the final piece of the puzzle together. Based on the above posts, I was thinking there was one circumstance where it would not be the woman's fault if she wasn't getting off – The one night stand or new boyfriend with no communication skills.
      However, now I see that it's ALWAYS the woman's fault.

      September 17, 2010 at 13:36 | Report abuse |
  43. Jane Chambers

    I am a very healthy in shape and active 60-year-old woman. I have not had sex in 10 years, and I don't miss it; I don't want it, and I am over it! I wish people would stop saying not wanting sex is some kind of disease (I'm sure it was thought up by young men.) Live without sex–no-stress and fabulous! Peace. Jane

    September 17, 2010 at 04:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • skinnaprik

      hot splooge baths daily are good for the soul!!!

      September 17, 2010 at 07:15 | Report abuse |
  44. G

    Has it occurred to anyone that a "Sugar Pill," in this case, is not actually a placebo, but rather, sugar is actually an aphrodisiac for women.

    Think about it. Male suiters have known this for millennia.One brings sweets for their sweetie. It works.

    So, whoever designed this study to use sweets as a placebo was, likely, in retrospect, an idiot.

    Maybe, just maybe, its the ingestion of sugar and not necessarily the tasting of sugar that promotes female sexual arousal.

    September 17, 2010 at 05:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Amuse

    The key to satisfy a woman is:
    1. Talk tender and listen – slow and easy first
    2. Take time and stimulate with some massage
    3. Once she is aroused hard, buckle up and ride the bronco.

    September 17, 2010 at 06:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Amuse

    It seems everyone looks for a quick fix thru pill. See my previous post.

    September 17, 2010 at 06:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. JON

    Look, it is rather elementary. Many women are care takers, and over time see sex as yet another chore. Don't feed or change the baby, the baby cries, which requires immediate attention. Don't do the laundry, there are no clean clothes to wear. Don't go grocery shopping, there is no food to eat. Don't have sex with the husband, he is forgiving at first, and over time starts to complain, which makes the wife see it as his problem. The more he ask, the less likely the couple is to have sex. Husband either starts putting more effort into work or hobbies, and wife starts resenting husband, which further decreases desire. All the while communication is just as lacking as the desire, interest and intimacy.

    Now enter the sex study. Each couple is asked to have sex for twelve weeks and keep a daily journal. Suddenly thoughts of sex are a part of the daily routine, whether acted on or not. Both are willing partners in the relationship and the study, and thus are already more likely to work at it, the relationship, the study, and the sex. Suddenly they have "homework" that requires joint effort, so it is their chore instead of her chore. She realizes, "Hey, this is fun, and feels good too!" Communication increases, resentment decreases, and the gears are once again in motion.

    See, I told you it was rather elementary, didn't I?

    September 17, 2010 at 06:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Johnny Ola

    Actually, no pill is needed. Just cash.

    September 17, 2010 at 06:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. darkashian

    Nothing like a good screw in the AM!!!

    September 17, 2010 at 07:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. skinnaprik

    the key to a good orgasm is for the male to have a 17 inch long putz. That always works wonders. The size of the sex tool is the key to working down in the hole!

    September 17, 2010 at 07:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • nutbuster

      No, the size of the tool doesn't matter.

      September 17, 2010 at 07:29 | Report abuse |
    • jollyroger

      the size of the male's sex meat is no big deal.

      September 17, 2010 at 07:39 | Report abuse |
    • billabong

      @darkashian below...yea bro, that should get the job done!

      September 17, 2010 at 07:46 | Report abuse |
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