ALFRED KINSEY - the so-called father of the sexual revolution - talked about, and indulged in, a lot of sex. That's not surprising, considering the nature of the research required to compile his Kinsey Report, but it seems many of the ordinary people he interviewed were also leading full and active sex lives. In fact, so candid were their revelations that the first volume of his report - Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male - sold its 200,000 print run within weeks and caused an uproar in a country struggling to pick itself up after the second world war. Certainly the report courted controversy by accepting as commonplace practices such as homosexuality, which had previously been equated with communism in 1940s America. But it also unearthed a seam of keen sexual interest and activity within that bastion of conservatism and supposed prudery: the American marriage. That this was deemed so shocking at the time begs the question: Did they think they were the only ones having sex? Fast forward to our more enlightened times and we find the reverse is happening. It's now common for married couples to feel that they're the only ones not having sex. Married couples in the 'noughties' are less intimate than the surveys commissioned by condom manufacturers would have us believe, and the unrealistic findings of these surveys often leave couples feeling as though their dwindling sex life is far from normal. According to Judith Mackay, Hong Kong author of the Penguin Atlas of Human Sexual Behaviour, many published sex surveys are wildly inaccurate. 'Surveys on sex are fraught with problems,' she says. 'Internet surveys are catastrophically biased because they tend to [question] young men between 18 and 25. Even the Durex surveys have a cut off at 45. They're not representative and people lie, so you've got to take most things with a pinch of salt. I think it's true to say that about a third of adults never have sex, or have sex just a few times a year,' she says The reasons couples have problems with their sex lives are myriad, but some broad patterns can be seen along gender lines. According to Mackay, 'global figures pretty much show that the top problems with sex in women are a lack of interest in sex, followed by inability to achieve an orgasm. Whereas the top problems in men are either impotence or premature ejaculation'. External factors also play a part. It's common in Hong Kong for one partner to travel extensively with work, for example, and this can leave couples living parallel lives. Intimacy is also a casualty where there's conflict in a relationship, but it's often simply a case of a loss of interest in sex, due to familiarity. The most common death knell to sex in a relationship is children. Wendy (not her real name), a Sha Tin resident and mother of three, has had sex with her husband only once in the past year. She says her libido disappeared with the birth of her children. 'You need energy to have sex, and mothers of young children don't have energy. When you're getting up at 6am, have been up several times in the night and you're running around after three kids all day, the last thing on your mind when you get into bed at night is having sex. You just want to collapse into the duvet and sleep.' Wendy's husband is also exhausted. He often doesn't get home from work until 11 or 12 at night. He's not inclined to have sex, but happily accepts that this is just a phase they are going through. But Wendy worries that their lack of sex life isn't normal. 'You read magazines and surveys in which people say they're at it three times a week, and that makes me feel incredibly inadequate. You feel as though there's something wrong with you. I worry about it more than my husband, but I think it's a woman's role to keep the relationship on track, and in that role you worry about sex.' Wendy isn't alone in her predicament. Ng Man Lun, professor in the the psychiatry department at University of Hong Kong, says the marital sex life of Hong Kong people is 'really very poor'. But should couples just resign themselves to the fact that their halcyon days are over and settle for cosy companionship, or should they look for ways to revitalise their sex life? Clearly, if both partners are happy to have little or no sex then they shouldn't encounter problems, but Ng says that couples unsatisfied in their sex life may find their marriage suffering. 'We know from divorce and marital counselling statistics that more than half of the cases are due to sexual problems between the couples directly or indirectly,' he says. The problem is that most couples don't ask for help. 'Most don't find ways to present or solve sexual problems,' says Ng. 'They just tolerate them until severe damage is caused. Then they separate, divorce or get psychiatrically ill. Some may look for simple self-help - for example, taking folk medicine or looking for alternative outlets, which usually makes things worse.' Nia Pryde, a sexual and relationship psychotherapist, counsels many married couples in Hong Kong who are concerned that one or both has lost interest in sex. She agrees that sexual problems in a marriage need to be addressed. 'Generally, the experience of intimacy provides the glue in a marriage, without which the marriage may be less durable,' she says. 'Couples can be bashful about seeking help for what they consider 'a private matter'. However, talking to someone about the problem is the beginning of finding a solution. In many cases, the situation can be remedied, or at least improved, by therapy that's short term.'