Time pressures and social media are killing the mood in the bedroom, a Tauranga-based sex therapist says.

Mary Hodson, an emotional and sexual intimacy specialist, says the pace of modern life and time-sapping technology is leaving little time to nurture relationships.

"Fifty per cent of my clients have the problem that sex isn't happening or isn't happening frequently enough," Mrs Hodson said.

The issue is particularly marked in the 30 to 50 age bracket.


"Being too busy is an enormous part of the problem. People are just doing too many things. Demanding full-time jobs for mums and dads, expectations that we will do everything with our children, go to the gym and keep fit, socialise with our friends. You can't physically do all these things. So something gets dropped and often that thing is the relationship and sex."

Mrs Hodson sees between 16 and 20 clients a week.

"Nobody's pressuring us to make our relationship great and to have a great sex life because it's a topic we don't talk about very much, so it often gets sidelined," she said.

"Technology is changing things and changing them rapidly. Every year, people are spending more time on email, Facebook or other social networks, gaming or watching television. People are becoming addicted."

The comments come as Australian research suggested almost half of Australians are having sex no more than once a month and one in nine married couples have not had sex in a year.

The VictoriaMilan.com.au site surveyed 1000 married Australians to reach the findings.

Mrs Hodson said there were no guidelines about what a normal amount of sexual activity was for couples and it would vary due to a number of factors.

"I would expect a couple in their 30s to be sexually active three or four times a week but it's different for every couple and the demands on them."

Lifestyle and how fatigued the couple was were significant.

"If you leave sex until bedtime, when you're 25 it will happen, when you're 35 with a career, children and other demands it may well not happen, when you're 45 it's very likely not to happen.

"You have to make that time - when the kids have gone to bed - your time and devote it to the relationship. You have to make an appointment with each other and make it a priority."

Mrs Hodson said sex was about more than the act, it was about emotional connectivity. Too often the subject suffered from being talked about in a sleazy or joking manner.

The Pfizer global study into sexual attitudes and behaviours, in 2006, stated 57 per cent of women and 54 per cent of men said the most important part of sex was emotional closeness.

"I ask all couples how much time they spend talking to each other about how they're feeling about the relationship, about each other. On a daily basis, the answer is not at all and weekly it's rare. Most people leave those conversations until there's an issue.

"We should really be having those types of conversations every couple of days."

Mrs Hodson said discussions of this nature improved the bond between couples and led to greater intimacy.

"Review all aspects of your relationship, discuss topics like what you promised each other when you got together. What were the unspoken expectations? If partners had to change those promises now, to bring them up to date, what would they change them to?

"Making 45 minutes a day, or every other day, for this is nothing. There are lots of 45 minutes slots spent watching TV or on the internet, which could be spent improving the basis of your relationship."

Caroline McCoy, who manages Greerton's Aristocrat Adult Boutique, agreed that people were neglecting their sex lives.

"One of the big problems is televisions in the bedroom. Everyone has them now and what do you do, you go to bed, watch half-an-hour of TV and fall asleep. Sex is a big part of any relationship so it is an issue, you have to have that chemistry for the sake of the relationship."