It’s a question that clinical sexologist and counselling psychologist Sarah Calleja hears often from clients at her South Yarra consulting rooms.

Clinical sexologist Sarah Calleja.And the answer, you will be pleased to know, is almost always yes.

The main reason people talk to Calleja is problems within their relationships and a desire to resurrect an earlier intimacy that has withered away.

Many are baffled about where they fit on a dumbed-down contemporary spectrum that pits conservative attitudes to sex against a hyper-sexual “pornified” approach, with not much space left for a middle ground.

Moderates aren’t seen as sexy, says Calleja. People who are moderate – and they are the majority – worry that if they admit this it makes them seem undesirable.

“One of the things that humans want is to look desirable and be desirable – this is critical for everyone’s well-being,” she says.

The country’s largest study of sexual activity and attitudes, released on Friday, has found that Australians have sex less often than a decade ago but our sexual repertoire has increased.

More than 20,000 people between the ages of 16 and 69 were interviewed on the phone about their sexual habits by researchers from the University of New South Wales, La Trobe University and the University of Sydney.

It found that people experience oral sex earlier; condom use has become more common; and an increasing percentage of people watch pornography, though this remains more common for men (65 per cent in the last year) than women (20 per cent).

On average, women said they had sex with eight men in a lifetime; men had sex with 18 women.

Gay men had far more sexual partners – an average of 96 across a lifetime; for lesbian and bisexual women it was six.

Calleja, a trained sexologist who has completed a masters in sexual health, asks all her clients how many times they would like to have sex and how many times it actually happens. Most say they would like sex three times a week.

Calleja finds this amusing because she does not see much consistency over a lifespan. Teenagers will have sex more often, and her baby boomer clients are having more sex than ever before.

“I’d say boomers are having the most rewarding sex – they don’t have body dysmorphic issues, they’ve integrated the whole sexual agenda.”

Calleja is particularly interested in young people, and this year she designed an app in collaboration with Swinburne University called “Parents, Tweens and Sex”, to help parents negotiate the topic of sex with their 10- to 13-years-olds in a way that is not traumatic or focused on deprivation.

Her young clients have given her access to a whole new vocabulary to describe their sexual experiences, including having facesex (via facebook) and equating sexting with “first base”.

“When I was a kid, first base was holding hands and then you moved to kissing,” she says. “But I call this a digital condom – there’s no touching, no transmission of any kind taking place.”

Teens often told her they download their parents’ computer browser history so that parents can’t tell their children are watching the same pornography.

They are naturally curious and have ways of communicating via devices the previous generation never had, Calleja says.

Sydney Morning Herald