To analyze factors that interfere with the exercise of sexuality among the elderly.
A cross-sectional study of 235 elderly persons enrolled at the Open University of the Third Age of the Federal University of Pernambuco was carried out. The dependent variable was the exercise of sexuality, which was investigated in terms of perception of sexuality, thinking about sex, what the elderly person does when he or she has the desire for sex, sexual activity and auto-eroticism. The independent variables were sociodemographic data, health status and self-perception of body image. Statistical analysis involved bivariate correlation by the Kendall and Spearman coefficients. All variables with p≤0.20 in bivariate analysis were included in the generalized linear regression, with p=0.05 considered for the rejection of the null hypothesis.
The conception of sexuality was most closely related to genitality (67.2%), 51.5% of the sample reported thinking about sex, while 71.1% of the elderly persons said they were indifferent to sexual desire; 32.3% claimed to be sexually active; and 23% auto-eroticized. The variables age, years of education, religion, physical exercise and dissatisfaction with body image were significant in bivariate correlation analysis. The desire for sex and sexual activity were less likely to be present among elderly persons who performed exercise.
The sexuality of the elderly is based on several factors that may interfere with their experience and should be considered in educational strategies employed by health professionals who promote actions for the sexual health of the elderly.
Aging; Sexuality; Health Education.