Monthly Webinar Series

March: Sex as Leisure and Positive Sexuality in Sexual Health Education for Older Adults

March 29, 2023, 7 p.m. PT.  Register here.

Sex is a form of leisure when it is freely chosen, pleasurable, and performed for its own sake. Sex as leisure approach also aligns with the tenets of the positive sexuality framework. Many older adults could benefit from adopting sex as leisure and positive sexuality outlook as they remain sexually active beyond their reproductive years. Moreover, the physical and psychological health benefits of sex in later life are numerous. However, ageist stereotypes fuel the tendency of neglecting sexuality in later life and even get internalized by some older adults. Thus, this study investigated: (1) perceptions of sex as leisure in later life; (2) benefits of viewing sex as leisure; and (3) the possibility of including the notion of sex as leisure in sexual health education. Data collection included 20 in-depth interviews with sexual health experts working with older adults and 53 in-depth interviews with older adults. Constructivist grounded theory and situational analysis were implemented in this study. The findings show that some older adults and sexual health practitioners view sex as leisure. Furthermore, this study reveals that viewing sex as leisure in later life is conducive to older adults’ willingness to maintain sexuality by negotiating constraints presented by the aging body, life circumstances, and ageist society. The findings suggest that helping older adults (re)acquire the view of sex as leisure (even if it is not necessarily called as such) can be instrumental for developing sexual health enhancement and education programs for older adults.

Liza Berdychevsky, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She graduated from the University of Florida with a Ph.D. in Health and Human Performance. Dr. Berdychevsky’s research revolves at the nexus of sexual health and wellbeing, adopting a gender-sensitive and a life course-grounded approach. Specifically, she investigates sexual behavior, attitudes, risk taking, and sexual education needs among young and older adults. She uses a variety of methodologies in her projects, including quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. Overall, Dr. Berdychevsky’s research contributes to a deeper understanding of the issues associated with sexual health and offers directions for health education programs and prevention and intervention methods. Dr. Berdychevsky has recently co-edited a special issue in Leisure Sciences and two edited books with Routledge and Channel Views Publications on the matters of sex, tourism, and leisure. She published in leading academic tourism, leisure, sexuality, health, and gerontology journals and serves as an associate editor in Leisure Sciences, an editorial board member in Annals of Tourism Research, Tourism Management, Annals of Tourism Research Empirical Insights, and Annals of Leisure Research. Her research has garnered substantial media attention in various global and regional news outlets, scientific medical news websites, and popular magazines.



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