Placebo a turn-on for women

Many women with low sex drives reported significant increases in sexual satisfaction after taking a placebo, say researchers from The University of Texas and Baylor College of Medicine.

The researchers, Cindy Meston, a clinical psychology professor at The University of Texas at Austin, and Andrea Bradford, a postdoctoral fellow at Baylor College of Medicine, say that the findings indicate that simply opening a new line of communication about sex can have a positive effect in many women with low libidos.

Published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, the new findings are based on a re-examination of data from a previous clinical trial that followed 200 women over a 12-week period. Fifty of those women, ages 35-55, were randomly chosen to receive a placebo instead of a new drug treatment for female sexual dysfunction. None of the participants knew which treatment they were given. To measure the effect of the treatment, women were asked to rate symptoms of sexual dysfunction such as low sexual desire, low sexual arousal and problems with orgasm.

The findings show that on average, one in three of the women who took a placebo showed an overall improvement. Most of that improvement seemed to happen during the first four weeks. Symptom changes were measured by the frequency of satisfying sexual encounters that the women reported during the treatment. Interestingly, many women reported they received more stimulation during sexual activity while they participated in the trial, even though their partners were not given any special instructions.

“The findings from our study show how a woman’s expectations to improve sexually can have a substantial positive effect on her sexual well-being without any actual drug treatment,” Meston said. “Expecting to get better and trying to find a solution to a sexual problem by participating in a study seems to make couples feel closer, communicate more and even act differently towards each other.”

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Source: Baylor School of Medicine, The University of Texas

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