Will I ever make love again? Four women reveal why their sex lives have simply fizzled out Last updated at 11:06 PM on 23rd February 2010 A survey last week revealed that a quarter of British women over the age of 35 never have sex. Some are single, some divorced - and some are still married. Here, the women behind the statistics reveal what's gone wrong... Angela Garvin's last relationship broke up 12 years ago, and since it ended she hasn't had sex once. At first, the 42-year- old PA found it hard to move on from her ex-boyfriend; then she found it hard to meet someone new. Before she realised it, five years had passed without sex, then ten, and still it goes on. 'I feel embarrassed about it,' Angela admits. 'It makes me sound odd, but it's simply that I've never got back into the swing of things - and now I don't really know how to.' Stark statistic: A quarter of British women over the age of 35 never have sex And evidence suggests that she is not alone. A survey last week revealed that a quarter of British women over the age of 35 never have sex. Those that took part in the poll include women across the social spectrum: career-driven singletons, wives, mothers and divorcees. The stark statistic raises wide-ranging questions about the sex lives of British women and how modern life is taking its toll on this most intimate, private part of their lives. 'It's to do with lifestyle and life stage,' says relationship psychologist Susan Quilliam. 'Thirty-five marks an age when many women are in stable relationships where the initial passion has fizzled out, or they are having children, or working hard at their careers, or just not playing the field.' 'It's more normal than we think,' adds sexual and relationship psychotherapist Paula Hall. 'Quite simply, there are periods in women's lives when they just don't have sex.' If we were to use the lives of the nation's bed-hopping celebrities as a benchmark, it would be fair to assume that Britons are constantly jumping in and out of bed with each other. But those women who spoke to the Mail to reveal how they have found themselves in a sexless wilderness at what should be the prime of their lives tell a very different story. Angela ended a seven-year relationship when she was 30 after her boyfriend refused to commit to her. 'We had sex every few days throughout our time together,' she says. 'Afterwards, I was bereft, even though I ended it, and any sexual urge left me as I grieved for our relationship. I felt like that for a couple of years.' In a bid to change her life, she started a university course in London, but found that as a mature student she had little in common with those around her. 'Surrounded by nubile 21-year-old students, I felt as if was in the midst of a sex fest that I wasn't part of.' Before long, she found she had simply slipped out of the habit of dating. 'I haven't had sex now for 12 years,' says Angela. 'I'd love to be in a sexual relationship. Society and the media make me feel as though everyone else is at it like rabbits. It's a relief to know it's not like that at all.' Caroline Newbury, a 39-year-old mother-of-two and part-time PA, admits she hasn't had sex for five years since splitting with her husband. But it is clearly something that bothers her: sex - or rather the lack of it - is the main topic of conversation when she goes out with her girlfriends. Society and the media make me feel as though everyone else is at it like rabbits. It's a relief to know it's not like that at all 'I miss the intimacy of sex - I miss the cuddling up, the holding and the closeness, as much as the physical act,' says Caroline, who lives with her daughters Sophie, 16, and Alexandra, 12, in Guildford. 'I've had a few dates, and I'm sure the men I went out with would have been willing, but where would I go? 'There is no way I would take a man back to my home with my daughters there. Nor would I go to the house of a man I hardly knew. 'I'm very keen not to inflict any sexual relationship on my girls, who are my number one priority. I am so busy, with work and looking after them, I feel that I have hardly any time for myself.' But even before she and her husband divorced, Caroline admits that their sex life had taken a turn for the worse. 'We were married for 11 years,' she says, 'and at first it was fantastic. But then he seemed to go off sex - which made me feel undesirable and unloved, and really had an impact on our break-up. 'I feel like I have lost the spring in my step that a healthy sex life gives you. It's like having a precious secret - something that makes you smile to yourself. Instead, I'm pouring myself into my work and bringing up my two girls. 'I don't want to go out looking for sex, as a few of my single friends have done. That isn't me at all. Yet I would hate to think this is the end of my sex life for ever and I will hit the menopause and become a dried-up old woman.' The agony for women who find themselves at a sexless stage of their lives is that they are faced with sexual images everywhere they look. They are there every time we switch on our television sets, or open the pages of a glossy magazine; sex is used in advertising, for the romantic, racy plots of chick-lit novels, and it plays no small part in the nation's news coverage. Who can have failed to read about the extramarital antics of sports stars such as John Terry and Ashley Cole in recent days? Or miss the comments of stars such as former Spice Girl Mel Brown who, when speaking recently about her Hollywood producer husband Stephen Belafonte said: 'Most days, we have sex five times.' Sexless wilderness: Angela Garvin's last relationship broke up 12 years ago, and she hasn't had sex since Mere mortals could be forgiven for feeling that their own sex lives pale in comparison. According to Susan Quilliam, society's highly sexualised image is a myth. 'The suggestion that a quarter of women aged 35 and over are not having sex doesn't surprise me at all,' she says. 'My surprise is that 75 per cent of women are still having regular sex at that age. 'Women in this age group are often in stable relationships. The first flush of getting into a relationship brings a lot of sex, but if you stay with the same man, you are going to want to have sex less, and so is he. 'Then you add in having babies, and the pressures of modern life, then you add in the expectation that makes you feel bad because you're not having it - and you start to get the picture.' Quilliam could quite easily be talking about 37-year- old lawyer Sarah Redwood. Sarah, who lives in Chesham, Buckinghamshire with her husband Nick, also a lawyer, and their children Lucy, six, and Max, four, hasn't had sex with her husband for three years. 'As a result,' she says 'our marriage is dying on its feet. We seem to argue constantly and we have lost the closeness we had before the children came along.' Yet this is in stark contrast to the beginning of their relationship. She recalls: 'Before we got married, we had sex at least every night, sometimes twice. But it was as if by putting the ring on my finger, we were witnessing the death knell of our unbridled passion. 'Within that first year, our sex life began to fall into a routine of maybe once or twice a week.' The arrival of children only compounded the problem. 'We used to make love all over the house before marriage,' says Sarah. 'But with very young children, we found we had to grab what opportunities we could, in bed, and they became fewer and fewer. 'I had a difficult second pregnancy and was very tired, and I didn't want Nick to come near me. I know he felt pushed out and neglected. 'After Max's birth, Nick complained that my sex drive seemed to disappear. He felt that he was "forcing" himself on me, which must have been horrid for him - but I was too tired to care, and just wanted him to get it over with so I could sleep. 'I started to fake orgasms, too, and gradually Nick found life was easier simply not even to try. I can understand why men have affairs in the year after a baby is born, or when a woman is pregnant.' According to Quilliam: 'As women, we are primed to make love until we have babies, and then to turn our attention to the next generation. If you're happy about the fact that you're not having sex, then it isn't a problem. I have a job I love and masses of friends - yet I don't have that intimacy and closeness in my life 'The problem with sex is that it involves two people. If you're on your own and you're happy that's fine. But if you're with a partner who wants sex, it can be a big, big problem - a much bigger problem than many realise. It really impacts on a relationship.' Sarah agrees. While she may not feel like having sex with her husband, she admits that she has become caught up in a vicious circle. 'The easiest thing for both of us is not to try to have sex at all - but it's having an awful effect on our relationship. 'We're just surviving, at the moment. We can't talk about it, because Nick flies into a rage. 'We've become like two polite strangers living in the same house, and we don't even cuddle. We have to do something to save our relationship, or we may be heading for divorce.' But some women living without sex have never been married in the first place. The 25 per cent figure also includes the nation's so- called Bridget Jones generation - women who may have enjoyed fulfilling sex lives in their 20s but have watched them dwindle away to nothing in their 30s. For many such women, it's not so much the case that they don't want sex - but that they never have the opportunity. Louise Whittington, a 37-year-old lawyer from South West London, has not had sex for five years, since the end of a couple of short-lived relationships in her early 30s. 'There are so many career women like me out there - women who have great jobs, work hard at looking good and yet who are leading sexless lives,' she says. 'You can find sex if you want it, but I have never been the kind of person to look for a one-night stand. I am looking for a long-term, meaningful relationship with a decent man.' No intimacy: Louise Whittington, 37, from South West London, has not had sex for five years For most of her 20s, she admits, her career with a leading law firm came first. 'In many ways my life is fulfilled. I own my own flat, I have a job I love and masses of friends - yet I don't have that intimacy and closeness in my life.' Louise is all too aware that while she mixed with other singletons in her 20s, many of her circle are now married. In a bid to take positive action and improve her chances, she has tried internet dating and joined the 'Elect Club' personal introduction agency. 'Sex is important,' she says, 'but it's the complete experience I need.' The same is true for Kathryn Holloway, a 37-year-old management accountant from Warwick. She hasn't had sex for three years since ending a five-month fling with a married colleague. 'It sounds like I'm talking about someone else when I hear myself say "I haven't had sex for three years." 'Sex has always been important to me - a key part of feeling connected to any man I was dating or in a relationship with. 'My relationships in the past have tended to last between four months and five years. The last one ended when I was 33, and I was heartbroken.' Soon after, she embarked on a relationship with a colleague after he began flirting with her at work, but ended it because she felt cheapened by it. 'It had the effect of putting me off sex because I don't ever want to feel used like that again. I haven't slept with anyone since.' The good news, according to Susan Quilliam, is that women who are going through a sexually barren period of their lives may rediscover their sex lives later on. 'New research from Sweden suggests that a healthy person's capacity and desire to have sex can last much longer than we thought - particularly in women,' she says. 'The old belief was that after the menopause, women lost interest in sex because of hormonal changes.' In fact, says Quilliam, those changes can have the opposite effect. 'With the menopause, when oestrogen levels drop and testosterone levels rise, some women start to feel renewed desire. 'They feel like they're 17 again. The children have grown up and left home, they have more money and time to go away for weekends. They rediscover that side of life.' Relationship counsellor Paula Hall is similarly optimistic. 'Our sex lives wax and wane depending on our life stage and our opportunity to be with people. 'I see couples who talk about going for months without sex, and they are referring to a particularly trying time in their relationship - perhaps when a child is ill and sharing their bed, or they have the mother-in-law staying. 'Later on, they have a bit of a break and go away on holiday and they're at it every day.' However bleak the picture then, the message from experts for those women without a sex life is hopeful. In other words, take heart: just because you're not having sex now, doesn't mean that you'll never have it again.