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Video: Sex and baby boomers

TODAY contributor
updated 2/26/2008 12:05:52 PM ET 2008-02-26T17:05:52

Baby boomers have always been on the forefront of the sexual revolution. From free love to birth control pills, the baby boomer generation has constantly pushed the envelope when it comes to sexual freedom and empowerment.

Decades later, research shows that the baby boomers are still alive and kicking in the bedroom department — a recent U.K. study found that more than one-third of this demographic would have sex on a first date. People of this age group also report a higher level of satisfaction in bed. Forget the MTV generation — young people’s sexual freedom pales in comparison to that of their parents’ generation.

Why is this? Baby boomers grew up in at atmosphere of social change and radicalism. The feminist movement helped women feel comfortable expressing their needs in the bedroom, while the rise of contraception helped make pregnancy more preventable. Baby boomers reaped the benefits of this early atmosphere of sexual freedom, while younger generations dealt with the onslaught of sexual fear in the form of STDs such as AIDS.

But despite this sexual freedom, baby boomers still face unique challenges in the bedroom:

Empty nest
Many baby boomers are now in the throes of the “empty nest” syndrome. While parents expect the sex and romance in their marriage to thrive once the kids leave for college, it can actually be a very difficult time in the relationship. Without curfew and other matters to discuss, parents might find themselves struggling to find topics of conversation. This lack of connection outside the bedroom can lead to difficulties connecting inside the bedroom as well. Baby boomers can combat this by finding a mutual hobby or activity they can participate in together, such as a fitness routine, book club or cooking class.

The fluctuating hormones which accompany a baby boomer’s entrance into middle age can create libido issues. Decreased testosterone levels affect both men and women at this age, which can cause sexual difficulties, such as erectile dysfunction and low libido in men and decreased sensation, lubrication and libido in women. In some cases, hormone treatments and erectile dysfunction drugs are necessary, but behavioral treatments such as proper nutrition, exercise and increased foreplay can help address the problems associated with menopause and andropause.

Midlife crisis
The fabled midlife crisis can be due to the shifting hormones caused by menopause/ andropause, or it can be due to environmental factors, such as the kids leaving home. Whatever the case, midlife crises can change the sexual landscape of an otherwise happy partnership. Indeed, many middle-aged people blame their extramarital affairs on their midlife crisis. In reality, the midlife crisis is not to blame for infidelity — but it might cause both men and women to feel discontent with their current situation, both sexually and otherwise. To combat these feelings of boredom and wanderlust, couples should make their midlife crisis a time of sexual exploration and adventure with each other. Role play and try new fantasies, whether it be joining the Mile High Club or getting busy in the great outdoors. Who knows? A midlife crisis might lead to the best sex of your life, once again proving that young people have nothing on experienced adults when it comes to sexual expression.

After all, baby boomers did invent the slogan “Make love, not war!”

Dr. Laura Berman is the director of the Berman Center in Chicago, a specialized health care facility dedicated to helping women and couples find fulfilling sex lives and enriched relationships. She is also an assistant clinical professor of OB-GYN and psychiatry at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. She has been working as a sex educator, researcher and therapist for 18 years.

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