Objective: This study aims to evaluate the prevalence of sexual activity, factors associated with being sexually active, and sexual self-perception in women 50 years or older living in a Brazilian city.
Methods: This population-based study applied a questionnaire to a random sample of 622 Brazilian women 50 years or older, representative of a population of 131,800 women, to obtain data on sexual activity and women’s perception of their sexual life as part of a broader study that dealt with women’s health. Associations between sexual activity, women’s perception of their sexual life, and demographic, behavioral, and medical characteristics were determined.
Results: Overall, 36.7% of the participants reported being sexually active. Of these, 53.5% classified their sexual life as very good or good. Multiple regression analysis showed that the main factors associated with the absence of sexual activity were not having a partner (prevalence ratio [PR], 0.16; 95% CI, 0.12-0.23; P < 0.001), aging (PR, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.94-0.96; P < 0.001), and current or past smoking of five or more cigarettes per day (PR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.63-0.98; P = 0.034), whereas being sexually active was associated with the practice of physical activity (PR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.02-1.41; P = 0.032). A woman’s classification of her sexual life as very poor, poor, or fair was associated with current or past use of natural remedies to treat menopausal symptoms (PR, 1.38; 95% CI, 1.06-1.81; P = 0.020).
Conclusions: The main factors associated with the absence of sexual activity are not having a sexual partner, aging, and smoking, whereas weekly physical activity is associated with being sexually active. A poorer classification of a woman’s sexual life is associated with her having used natural remedies to treat menopausal symptoms.