The nation’s bedrooms used to be sizzling with passion, so why are we now feeling a chill between the sheets?
Does it feel like a long time since you and your partner locked lips — or even eyes?
You may not be able to put your finger on the reason why your love life has deteriorated. But if you’re constantly scrolling through your phone, even in bed, worrying about your workload, or having too many tipples every night, it’s no surprise that your sex life is suffering.
And you’re not alone. Experts have noticed that as a nation we’re having sex less frequently.
Sir David Spiegelhalter, Winton professor of the Public Understanding of Risk in the Statistical Laboratory at Cambridge University, found that couples aged 16 to 44 who live together are having sex four times a week on average, compared with six times a week in 1990.
So why is modern life reducing our desire to have sex? And what can you do about it?
Cut your screen time
When you pick up your phone in bed, you may think you’re just having a quick look at your texts — but it sends a signal to your partner.
A joint report produced by Durex and the Centre for Sex, Gender and Sexualities at Durham University revealed that more than one in five people complained that technology such as tablets and smartphones had a negative effect on their relationships, largely because they are such a huge distraction.
Alix Fox, Superdrug’s ‘sexpert’, says: ‘Mobiles often cause moans in the bedroom — but not the right kind of moaning!
‘People spend more time scrolling through sites than rolling in the sheets, stare at their iPhones rather than making eye contact with their sweethearts, and waste so many hours glued to their screens that they forget to truly connect with each other.’
She has a point.
Shockingly, a third of respondents in the Durham study confessed to stopping a lovemaking session in order to take a call or check a text.
Research carried out by the University of Sussex found that if one partner is always on the phone, it encourages the other to overuse his or her phone too.
Alix says: ‘The best way to improve matters is to commit to making changes together.’
She also suggests using an alarm clock instead of keeping your mobile by the bed.
Filter out social media
Looking at the selfies of perfect models on social media can be a passion killer too.
Alix says: ‘Endless exposure to apparently flawless models can dent your self-esteem, making you feel less confident about getting naked for nookie.
‘It can even make you more critical of your other half’s physical attributes.’
She points out that it’s important to remember that most of the shots you see have been extensively airbrushed, Photoshopped and filtered.
Thousands of less flattering poses were probably deleted before someone settled on the snaps you actually see.
Relationship counsellor and life coach Gary Amers says his clients often feel jealous when they spot their other half liking others’ pictures and posts.
He said: ‘People are craving attention from their partners.’
Alix says: ‘Alcohol is a depressant, and while savouring the odd pint or glass of wine to unwind is fine, too much booze can give your sex life the blues.’
Drinkaware, the independent alcohol advice service, says that excessive consumption can cause women to produce less natural vaginal lubrication and find it harder to orgasm, while men can struggle to achieve and maintain an erection.
Anything that weakens the senses also weakens the sex drive, Gary explains.
‘Sex takes focus and energy,’ he says. ‘Take the time to form new habits. Often men manage stress by excessive drinking, unaware that it distracts them from building quality time with their partners, which can lead to affairs and other complications.’
Alix suggests: ‘Rather than reaching for the bottle after a challenging day, try going for a stroll.
‘Listen to some music you love on headphones as you walk, or invite your partner along and use this peaceful moment to hold hands and catch up on each other’s days.
‘A hot bath can help too!’
It’s no surprise that money worries can cause stress in a relationship. Even if it’s not a pressure for you, it may be on your partner’s mind.
Gary says: ‘In my experience it is more common for men to feel it. If they are not in control financially, it can emasculate them to the point where they sabotage relationships and disengage sexually.
‘When men find a new way of coping, that behaviour stops. I’ve worked with countless men who have sabotaged their true love, only to realise after close inspection that it was down to financial stress.’
One recent poll in the USA found that 62 per cent of adults thought significantly more about money than about sex, while a quarter said money worries actively stopped them having sex.
Gary says that pushing ourselves too hard at work can lower libido too.
He adds: ‘The greatest thing we can all do is try to stay in control of our thoughts, behaviours and actions — and take time every day to bring peace, balance, relaxation, energy and vitality into our lives.
‘This will guarantee a huge shift in your sex life.’
Edited by Phoebe Jackson-Edwards