Sexual relationship is not limited to a merely biological process; it is an experience that is formed in a joint intrapersonal, interpersonal and cultural context. This study aimed to explore married Iranian women’s interpretation of sexual activity. The researchers conducted this qualitative study on 65 eligible married women aged 16-60 years attending prenatal care, family planning, and gynecology clinics in an educational hospital during 2012-2013. We collected data through 9 focus group discussions. We also used purposive sampling method with maximum variation for selecting study Participants. All interviews were continued until data saturation was achieved. Researchers used a conventional content analysis approach for data analyzing. Four main categories were extracted from the data. The main categories included: “Sex and response to individual’s feelings,” “Sex and intra and interpersonal challenges,” “Sex and informational challenges (the known and unknown),” and “Sex and self-sacrifice (duty-oriented sexual activity).” The participants expressed a dynamic meaning of sexual marital activity that was influenced by many basic emotional, psychological, physical, social, economic, and cultural factors. Most participants placed strong emphasis on the duty-oriented aspect of marital sexual activities, and showed a preference for their husband’s sexual needs and satisfaction.


Coitus, Female, Marriage, Perception, Qualitative Research

Author Bio(s)

Sedigheh Pakseresht, is an Associate Professor in Social Determinants of Health Research Center in the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery at Guilan University of Medical Sciences, Rasht, Iran. Her areas of research include community health and women health promotion.

Fatemeh Jafarzadeh-Kenarsari, is an Assistant Professor in Department of Midwifery in the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery at Guilan University of Medical Sciences, Rasht, Iran. Her research interests focus on sexual and reproductive health and qualitative inquiry.

Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: f.kenarsari2013@gmail.com.

Zahra Atrkar Roushan is an Assistant Professor in Department of Community Medicine and Biostatistics at Guilan University of Medical Sciences, Rasht, Iran. She is a biostatistics specialist.


This study is part of a larger research project that was approved and funded by the Ethic committee of Guilan University of Medical Sciences, Rasht, Iran under the number: P/3/132/926.Researchers of this study wish to express their gratefulness to all authorities for their financial support for this study. The authors would like to express their sincere gratitude to all participants without whom this study could not have been carried out.

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