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Romance a snooze for boomers

By Anne Kyle, Leader-Post

Nearly two-thirds of baby boomers living on the Prairies say they are too tired to enjoy having sex, according to new data on the sexual attitudes of baby boomers.

The Ipsos-Reid survey -- commissioned by Viagra drug manufacturer Pfizer Canada in 2005 -- found the leading causes of lack of enjoyment of sex were fatigue, stress and lack of time because of work or family commitments.

"When people say they are just too tired or fatigued to enjoy sex, you really have to understand what that means.

"If sex was really wonderful, even if you were dead tired, you would take another 15 to 20 minutes at the end of the day to do it,'' sex therapist Dr. David Schnarch said from Evergreen, Col.

"The reason a lot of people don't have sex is because even when they are having sex, the sex that they are having isn't worth wanting.''

Emotionally, alienation is a very serious problem among couples whether they are having sex or not, Schnarch said.

"You can see it in the statistics in the Pfizer study where 15 per cent of Canadian boomers say they aren't hugging or kissing (their partners) at all and 10 per cent say they are only kissing and hugging once or twice a month. Thirty-nine per cent say they are kissing and hugging daily, but it is very likely that is a perfunctory kiss and a five- or six-second hug,'' he said.

The Boomers in the Bedroom: Sexual Attitudes of the Boomer Generation report was based on a study of 2,498 Canadians aged 40 to 64. The findings released on Tuesday showed 68 per cent of prairie people hugged or kissed their partners only once a week and 42 per cent had sex only once a week.

Schnarch suggests a five-minute hug would improve boomers' sex lives and the intimacy in their relationships.

"We encourage people to do something called hugging to relax -- where you keep your clothes on, put your arms around your partner, focus on yourself, calm yourself down and you stay in the embrace for about five minutes,'' he said.

"A five-minute hug to many people seems like a lifetime because hugs are usually so quick. Once people begin to calm down and get rid of all the anxiety that they have, then they are very often interested in doing something else.''

Schnarch said once a person is calmed down that is where sex-enhancing and performance-enhancing drugs really can have their place.

"Hugging to relax is the kind of gift that couples can give each other. With everybody running around trying to get the perfect gift for Christmas, hugging the person you love to the point you calm down and really begin to feel like you are in each other's arms, minds and hearts really makes a difference,'' he said.

Though more than 80 per cent of boomers say having sex makes them feel loved and appreciated, close to 40 per cent of women and 60 per cent of men admit that they worry about losing their ability to perform sexually as they age, according to the study.

Those worries are shared by many people around the world, Schnarch said, explaining sexual problems are not only common, they are to be expected and they need to be approached intelligently and empathetically.