More than half the respondents to a Hong Kong sex survey claiming to be the first of its kind have reported suffering from at least one sexual problem for three months or more in the past year, believed to be partly triggered by financial stress and lifestyle. And Chinese University's Joseph Lau Tak-fai, who carried out the survey, has warned that the problems will worsen if the economic situation does not improve because it will lead to more stress. 'This study has shown that problems of sexual function are both common and severe,' said Dr Lau, from the university's Centre for Clinical Trials and Epidemiological Research. Fifty-one per cent of men and 53 per cent of women reported problems in the survey, in which 1,571 men and 1,656 women aged between 18 and 59 were quizzed. Problems of sexual dysfunction include symptoms such as impotence and lack of interest in sex. Dr Lau said the figures were comparable to countries overseas, including the United States. The academic claimed that the community-based sex study was the first of its kind involving Chinese people. Dr Lau said that more than 20 per cent of people complained they were frustrated by their problems and about 90 per cent of men rated a good sex life as important. The study shows men with financial burdens or stress have at least a 70 per cent higher chance of suffering from impotence than those who do not. Drug abuse increases the risk of impotence by four times and lack of exercise by 54 per cent. For factors associated with sexual dysfunction in general, stress from work increases the risk by 58 per cent in men and 32 per cent in women, while working more than 60 hours a week increases the risk by 82 per cent in women. Smoking and alcohol raise the risk by 56 per cent in men and nearly triple it among women. Professor Helen Chiu Fung-kum, who chairs the psychiatry department at the Chinese University, warned that sex problems could lower the quality of life, undermine marital relationships and harm psychological health, leading to conditions like depression. Professor Chiu also said the Government was failing to provide enough resources to help people with the problem. The Hospital Authority last night said: 'In view of limited public resources, public hospitals have to consider cost-effectiveness in the provision of patient services.'