Sex differences for placebo effects not only exist, but they follow some rules, as it appears:
* Despite higher pain sensitivity in females, placebo analgesia is easier to elicit in males;
* It appears that conditioning is effective specifically to elicit nocebo effects;
* Conditioning works well to elicit placebo and nocebo effects, but only in females;
* Verbal suggestions are insufficient to induce placebo effects in women but work in men.
Read the whole article, in Science Trends.
Are aphrodisiacs placebos? What would happen if you spent a whole day eating them?
Read about Insider writer Sara Hendricks’s experiment with binge-eating foods claimed to have aphrodisiac properties, leading up to (spoiler alert) her conclusion that “at the end of the day, whether or not an aphrodisiac food works might simply depend on how much faith you have in the placebo effect. Aphrodisiacs, as it turns out, may very well be in the eye of the beholder.”
Do males and females respond differently to the placebo effect? This review of 18 studies concludes that “1) males responded more strongly to placebo treatment, and females responded more strongly to nocebo treatment, and 2) males responded with larger placebo effects induced by verbal information, and females responded with larger nocebo effects induced by conditioning procedures.”
It seems “that … differences in the placebo and nocebo effects (are) probably caused by sex differences in stress, anxiety, and the endogenous opioid system.”
Download the study ‘A systematic review of sex differences in the placebo and the nocebo effect’