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Survey highlights decline of the British sex life

By Julian Shea in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-05-09 17:01

Exhaustion and digital lifestyle blamed for falling figures

The demands of increasingly busy modern lifestyles and the lure of the internet are two of the factors being blamed after a survey revealed that British people are having less sex.

More than 34,000 people aged between 16 and 44 took part in research for the national surveys of sexual attitudes and lifestyles, also known as Natsal, and the results were analyzed by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Between the years 2001 to 2012, all groups surveyed reported a decline in sexual activity, with the demographics which recorded the largest change being married or cohabiting couples, and the over 25s.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, the report's authors noted "Most compelling among the explanations, perhaps, given the age and marital status of the people most affected, relates to the stress and 'busyness' of modern life, such as work, family life, and leisure are constantly juggled.

"Life in the digital age is considerably more complex than in previous eras, the boundary between the private space of home and the public world outside is blurred, and the Internet offers considerable scope for diversion."

They added that statistical patterns suggest the overall trend toward less frequent sexual activity was principally down to the decline among married or cohabiting couples.

The data also revealed half of all women and nearly two-thirds of men questioned said they would like to have sex more frequently, with the figure particularly high among couples living together.

"The social pressure to over-report sexual activity may have eased," the report's authors noted.

"Further, gender equality may now extend to the sexual sphere; where women might previously have felt obliged to meet their partner's sexual needs irrespective of their own, they might now be less inclined to do so."

Professor Kaye Wellings, the lead author of the report, said the demands of the so-called "sandwich" generation, with caring responsibility for both their own young families and also elderly parents, might also be a factor.

But she said people who felt that their sex lives were suffering should take heart from the fact the survey revealed they were not the only ones.

"It is interesting that those most affected are in mid-life," she said.

"These are the cohorts of men and women who, having started their families at older ages than previous generations, are often juggling childcare, work and responsibilities to parents who are getting older," she said.

"More than half of the men and women… said they'd prefer to have sex more often, which could partly stem from unfavorable comparisons with what they think is the norm.

"Most people believe that others have more regular sex than they do themselves. Many people are likely to find it reassuring that they are not out of line."

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