When the company where she was employed dissolved in a corporate merger, Patricia Merkle 49 lost her job as an Account Manager. Asked by a friend to host an in-home party to sell ‘naughty sex toys’ and lingerie to her girlfriends, she reluctantly agreed. That evening marked a turning point in her life. Not only was the party an evening of sheer delight and laughter, she also pocketed $265 in commissions. Now she is hosting parties three evenings a week and can’t keep up with the requests.
“It’s not the kind of party I talk to my mother about,” Patricia says, sitting in her home office cluttered with an inventory of vibrators, lubricants, lacy lingerie and DVDs on tantric sex. “But I’m making more money working part time and I’m certainly having more fun. These parties provide a setting where women can talk about their sexuality, release their frustration with laughter and get pumped to put some zest back into their love making.”
Patricia’s home parties are not the only event making waves in the lives of the 40+ crowd. Vanessa Timmel, 45, a freelance journalist wears a transparent aroma patch on her wrist that she sniffs regularly to enhance her libido. Barbara Fuller 53 spends 15 minutes a day doing Kegel exercises, part of a post menopause program to keep her pelvic muscles toned. And in her lavish downtown condo, part of a recent divorce settlement, Paula Savjord and her new (younger) lover are watching an explicit educational video on Tantric Lovemaking for Couples.
What’s up with the aging boomers? Back in the 60s it was all about sex, drugs and rock n roll – life was a party. However not long after initiating the sexual revolution, boomers were faced with a more sobering reality: raising families, building careers, paying mortgages and college tuitions and trying to manage an increasingly out-of-control lifestyle. It all added up to spending a lot less time on one of their most cherished activities of their youth – sex.
The first of the 78+ million Baby Boomers – those born between 1946 -1964 – started turning 60 this year and their health has become a top priority. One area receiving more than just a glance is their flagging sexual health. A recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive revealed that 84 percent of the respondents said physical intimacy was more important than having enough money (72 percent) or good health (78 percent). However, over half of the respondents rated their intimate physical relationship as unsatisfactory. Like their bulging waists, graying hair and weathering skin, the boomer’s sexual health is also showing the scourge of aging.
Faced with the ‘use it or lose it proposition’, boomers are eager to put some passion back into their sex lives. Getting back in touch with their sexuality has become a booming trend. TV and radio talk shows, Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, sexual advice columns in all the major newspapers and magazines, movies, books, DVDs and Internet erotica are all flourishing venues to explore and express their feelings on sex.
Sex therapist Dr. Joy Davidson, PhD., author of Fearless Sex says that dialogue on sexuality has certainly become more public. Dr. Davidson believes that the Internet has been a major influence in helping the boomers explore their sexuality. “It’s had a dramatic impact on sexual openness, with online communities springing up to discuss just about every aspect of sexual expression. The Internet also spares people the embarrassment of going into a sex shop to buy sex aids and toys because they can order them discretely online.”
Another factor that is bringing sexuality to the forefront is menopause. Slightly over half of the boomers are women and with the average age of menopause at 51, most of them will experience menopause by the year 2012, if they haven’t already. As can be expected, boomers aren’t buying into the old attitude that entering menopause means the end of satisfying sexual relationships.
Cheered on by celebrities such as Oprah, Cybill Shepherd and Jane Fonda, menopause is touted as a time to re-invent oneself. Freed from their monthly periods, birth control and mothering instincts, women are free to be sexy, flirty and hot, even if they are in their 50’s. As anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “There is no more creative force in the world than a menopausal woman with zest.” She said it more than 20 years ago, and it has never been truer than it is today.
Liz Paul, who was awarded the British Female Inventor of the Year award for her efforts to enhance female sexual health, sees menopause as an opportunity to get more sexual. Working with one of the leading researchers in aromachology, she developed Scentuelle, (http://www.scentuellepatch.com) an aroma patch that is designed to boost the waning libidos of both women and men. Launched in the U.K. last year, Scentuelle has become a major sexual enhancement aid in Europe.
“Sexual desire isn’t just about the motion,” says Paul. “A women’s sexual desire starts on the inside as an emotion. Isn’t that where the focus should be?” The patch is being launched in the US this fall and is expected to be a huge hit with the boomer crowd.
Sex shops, once seen as the dark, sinful hangouts of sleazy men and hookers, are being re-imagined and instead of the XXX rating, they are now going mainstream with names like Our Pleasure Boutique, Venus Envy and Magic Moments. On shelves lined with an endless variety of vibrators of every color, shape and size are arousal oils, pleasure-enhancing creams, handcuffs, vibrating rings that fit male genitalia and a whole lot of other devices for the enjoyment of both partners. Sex enhancement products are showing explosive growth and the demand is being driven by aging boomers, who see sexual intimacy as an integral part of a healthy lifestyle.
While boomers concerned about their sexual health are trying out toys and stimulants, they’re also exercising to prop up their aging bodies. Along with pumping iron and aerobic exercise, women are toning their pelvic muscles, often weakened from childbirth and the natural aging process. In addition to simple Kegel exercises, pelvic toning systems are available to give a woman more control over the intensity of her orgasms. The added bonus is that healthy pelvic muscles prevent another aging and embarrassing issue, incontinence.
Sexual health is about intimacy and enhancing sexuality. In their efforts to combat old attitudes about aging and sexuality, boomers are buying and experimenting with a variety of new techniques to spice up their sex lives, re-awakening their libidos and in turn experiencing a deeper intimacy with their partners – or by themselves.
Where will all this attention on the boomer’s sexual health end up? Just as the sexual revolution of the 60s led to self exploration and a change in attitudes towards sex, so will the boomers reshape traditional ideas and attitudes on sex and aging. Once again they are on the forefront of a sexual revolution and pushing back the boundary of what is acceptable. In doing so they are enjoying a deeper sense of intimacy with themselves and their partners.
Hot Trends in Boomer Sexual Health
Sex Toys – From the widely popular Rabbit vibrator made famous in an episode of Sex and the City to body wax candles, there’s a huge variety of toys to enhance every facet of sexual expression.
Educational Videos and DVDs – Provide explicit instructions on sexual techniques and intimacy. From basic positions to kinky sex, these videos are professionally produced by sex educators and therapists to foster communication and creativity between partners. http://www.sinclairinstitute.com
Libido Aroma Patch – Unlike Viagra and topical creams that focus on intercourse and climax, these aroma patches provide an overall feeling of sexuality all day long.
Home Party Plans – Instead of Tupperware and cosmetics, home party plans allow friends to get together and share in an evening of fun and laughter while browsing over the latest in sexual enhancements.
Online Dating – Dating websites have grown into a multi-million dollar industry. Along with thousands of dating sites that cater to every genre, web surfers can stop at online cafes and exotic meeting places to find new friends and relationships.