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National sex survey: Distractions of modern life mean people have less sex

Worries about the recession and all-hours access to social media have had noticeable impact on British libidos, researchers say
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The distractions of social media and worries about the recession mean couples in Britain are having less sex than at any other time in the past two decades, the national sex survey said.

On average, those aged 16 to 44 were having sex less than five times a month. Compare that with figures of more than six times a month in the same studies 10 and 20 years earlier, and researchers say modern life appears to be having a noticeable impact on libidos.

The figures come from the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal), which is carried out once a decade and this year questioned more than 15,000 people aged 16 to 74.

Dr Cath Mercer, from University College London, told BBC News: “People are worried about their jobs, worried about money. They are not in the mood for sex.

“But we also think modern technologies are behind the trend too. People have tablets and smartphones and they are taking them into the bedroom, using Twitter and Facebook, answering emails.”

Lead Natsal author Kaye Wellings, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that the stress of the recession and the need to work when away from the office could be to blame for the decline in sexual frequency, according to reports in The Times.

“In a recession we find an association between unemployment and a low number of sexual partners, perhaps due to low self-esteem,” she said.

For men, the average number of sexual partners in a lifetime has also dropped, down from 12.6 to 11.7.

It is another story for women, however. The study suggested that they are starting having sex younger, having more partners, and that those are not necessarily men.

Meanwhile, the survey also asked people about instances when they had been coerced into having sex. One in 10 women said that they had been made to have sex, compared to one in 71 men.

In around 83 per cent of instances for both genders the person responsible for the coercion was someone they knew.