Sexual Experience of Iranian Women in Their Middle Life: A Qualitative Approach

Document Type: Original article

Authors

1 Student Research Committee, Department of Midwifery and Reproductive Health, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Midwifery and Reproductive Health Research Center, Department of Midwifery and Reproductive Health, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Science, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Nursing, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran

Abstract

Background: Sexual problems are common among the middle-aged women; however, there is no deep understanding of sexuality in midlife. The current study aimed to investigate Iranian women’s attitudes and experiences about sexual life changes in midlife.Methods: This is a descriptive qualitative study. Seventeen women aged 40 -65 years old were purposively selected from urban health centers in Gorgan, Iran, in 2015. Face-to-face, semi-structured and in-depth interviews were conducted for data collection until data saturation was attained. The resulting data were analyzed based on Graneheim and Lundman’s approach. MAXQDA 10 was used for organization of data. Results: Data analysis demonstrated seventh sub-themes and three themes. The emerged themes were entitled (1) “Continuous paradox over being a sexual agent” with three subthemes of beliefs on asexuality as socially accepted view for women in midlife, changing in motivation for sex and changing in sexual performance, (2) “Considering menopause; opportunities and threats for sexual life” with two subthemes of menopause related cons for sexual life and menopause related pros in sexual life, and (3) “Coping strategies for changes in sexuality in midlife” with two subthemes of different psychological reactions to changes that have influenced the sex and take practical steps for restoration of sexual attraction. Conclusion: The findings demonstrated that middle-aged women in a male-dominant culture encounter paradox over being a sexual agent. In a bio-psycho-social approach, they perceived menopause as an opportunity or threat for their own sexuality. Following the conflicts, threats and changes of sexuality in midlife, they adopt diverse coping strategies to improve their sexual relationships and preserve their family.

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