Related Topics: Libido, News

Is Your Libido Located In Your Mind?

New report says that a placebo effect boosts women’s sex drive better than drugs

AnnA Rushton

If you want to improve your sex life and regain lost libido it seems that it is very much in your own control – if you are a woman that is.  Drugs like Viagra and Cialis which were prescribed initially for the treatment of male sexual dysfunction in the late 1990s were so successful that researchers wondered if they might also have a beneficial effect on women.

A series of clinical trials then took place, but the drugs were of no effect at all.  What did seem to work was the placebo pill that a third of the women given on the trial.  They were being treated for low libido and that group reported improvements in their sex lives.  This confirms that the mind-body connection surrounding arousal and desire is certainly powerful enough to compete with a pharmaceutical, even if we don’t know exactly why.

For many women juggling the demands of home, career and family particularly between the ages of 35 to 55 can be difficult.  Today with increased financial pressure for everyone that leads to stress and worry, not ideal accompaniments to a good sex life.

The study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine and its study author was Andrea Bradford, a post-doctoral fellow at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.  The study did a review on the previous data on Cialis that had been used in the initial trials and found that not only did about 35 percent of women given the placebo pill experience significant improvement in psychological aspects of sex such as desire, many reported improvements in the physical aspects of arousal, including better lubrication, more frequent orgasms or more easily attainable orgasms.

In the original study, 50 women aged 35 to 55 who were diagnosed with female sexual arousal disorder were given either Cialis or a placebo for 12 weeks. The women, most of whom were married, were asked to have sex at least three times a month. “Many went above and beyond,” Andrea Bradford commented, and no doubt their partners were delighted as well.

This is not just about taking a placebo, it is also about communicating about sex and so to speak having sex at the forefront of their minds meant the women were more conscious of it.  The study concluded that just the act of attending to their sex lives was very therapeutic for some women and although over time the frequency with which women had sex dropped a little, they continued to report better sex lives overall.  Happily they reported that it was quality over quantity that made the difference to their sex lives, which makes sense as when sex is no longer satisfying, women tend to avoid it.

It reminds me of a question that used to come up regularly in the seminars that my colleague Dame Dr Shirley Bond and I used to give on menopause.  It was whether low libido was a result of menopause and Dr Bond’s commonsense reply was ‘no’ and that desire needs to be encouraged and that in long term relationships boredom and familiarity can take the edge off that desire.

So there you have it, to improve your sex life start thinking about it more often, and use your imagination to make it more interesting to you – and your partner.

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