Ugandan people still regard sexuality for older people as taboo. While a good sexual relationship is seen as important to quality of life for the majority of older adults, the quantity of interpersonal relationships is even more important. Cultural biases have tended to stereotype older people as asexual, devoid of feelings or emotion. This is because a woman’s sexuality is often linked to the ability to bear children, and for women, their concept of themselves as sexual beings may also be tied to their ability to reproduce, which she loses after menopause. However, men’s sexuality is not expected to change in a life time. This study focused on the experiences and perceptions of sexuality and ageing of Eastern Ugandan women and men, and how they affect gender relations within households and communities. An exploratory study design was employed and to examine the gendered perceptions and experiences of older men and women, and data were collected using a mixed-methods approach, where qualitative and quantitative techniques including survey, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions were used. The study found that older women and men do not perceive their sexuality in the same way. Women largely relate their sexuality to their reproduction. Men feel that women should give up sexual activity earlier than them, because it is shameful for ageing women to be sexually active. Women themselves feel that beyond the age of 40-45 years, when they start experiencing body changes including menopause, sexual activity should be ruled out. Men and women reported going through a period of reduced desire which often results in poor gender relations. Despite the assumption that culturally, African women are not supposed to discuss their sexuality, the women were very open about sharing their experiences. There is a need for social networks, to enable ageing people to understand and discuss matters of sexuality openly so that they can relate the changes brought about to aging.
Keywords: Gender relations, sexuality, ageing, stereotypes