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Sexual activity in Brazilian women aged 50 years or older within the framework of a population-based study

Valadares, Ana Lúcia Ribeiro MD, PhD; Santos Machado, Vanessa S. MSc; da Costa-Paiva, Lúcia S. MD, PhD; de Souza, Maria Helena PhD; Osis, Maria José PhD; Pinto-Neto, Aarão M. MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/GME.0b013e3182987231
Original Articles

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.

From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medical Sciences, State University of Campinas, Campinas, SP, Brazil.

Received February 28, 2013; revised and accepted April 22, 2013.

Funding/support: This work was supported by grant 04/10524-8 from the São Paulo Foundation for the Support of Research.

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Ana Lúcia Ribeiro Valadares, MD, PhD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medical Sciences, State University of Campinas, PO Box 6111, Campinas 13083-970, SP, Brazil. E-mail: anarvaladares@gmail.com

© 2014 by The North American Menopause Society.