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We may be broke, but at least we're having more sex than ever before!

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It seems that in a recession there's still something we can do for free and we're doing it with gusto. Sex is the buzz word of the moment.

Last month America released its most in-depth sexual study in almost 20 years. The probe (ahem) into the nation's bedroom antics resulted in a detailed 130-page study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. But stripped back to its basic findings the news is that the Americans are having more sex, more adventurous sex and more sex later in life than ever before.

Not to be left behind, Ireland looks to be following suit. Last week, Durex published its survey that revealed the majority of Irish men and women aged between 25-34 have sex an average of three or four times a week. We're not lagging behind in sauciness either. The US survey identified five main sex acts and reported that 16% of women aged 18-24 had engaged in at least four the last time they got down to business.

Not to be outdone, Durex's Irish respondents confessed to being equally if not more sexually adventurous. At least 44% of us are talking about sexual fantasies with our partners, 40% are watching porn together and almost 20% are either getting down to role play or spanking behind closed doors.

Around 9% are indulging in bondage, 25% love phone sex and 10% have tried their hand at making a naughty home movie. Threesomes are also a regular event for 11% of the more than 1,000 respondents.

"The results from our sex surveys show that as a nation, we're more liberated than ever and not afraid to try new things in, and out, of the bedroom," says Miriam Abel, Durex Brand Manager for Ireland. "Not only are we having more sex, it's better quality too, we know what we want and we enjoy enhancing our sex lives."

Journalist Simon (37), from Dublin says sex is an important de-stresser for him. "I'd probably have sex with my girlfriend about three times a week," he says. "After a hard day at work there's nothing better to get rid of the day's anxieties. Sometimes it's long and sensual, other times it's a bit more wham, bam, thank you ma'am -- but it's always great!"

A year ago, 55-year-old Dublin divorcee Claire realised young men were a real turn-on for her. She says: "I met a young man in the bar and it wasn't long before we ended up in bed. I nearly died when he told me he was 28 but we went on to have fantastic sex and it gave me a new-found confidence. Now I would not even look at a man my age."

Backing up the notion that people are keen to keep things exciting in the bedroom is the fact that the sex industry is one of the only sectors that hasn't been hit by the plummeting economy.

According to kinkydevil.ie, Ireland's biggest online adult store, business is growing by around 10% every year with the Irish market worth about two to three million euro annually. A spokesperson for the website says: "I'd have to say that Ireland is one of the kinkiest places in Europe if not the world. Per capita there are a higher number of sales of sex toys and clothing than in many other parts of the western world. In particular the Irish love their costumes, latex wear and slap and ticklers."

One of the most interesting, and cheering, findings of both the American and Irish sex studies is that its not just the youngsters getting up to shenanigans.

According to the Durex study, the over-55s are having sex at least once a week, and 73% of the respondents are convinced sex just gets better with age.

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Joan (62) from Waterford says that her healthy sexual appetite keeps her active. She says: "I may be old but I am not past it and I still enjoy a good hour-long session -- longer if the man can last!"

She adds: "Sex makes me feel like a young woman. My birth certificate says my age but my mind thinks it's something completely different."

Joan is also one of a growing number of men and women over 50 signing up to sites like irishswingers.ie. She says: "I had my first threesome in July this year with two guys who I spent a week with in a caravan and I can tell you it was pretty hot. It had been a while since I have had sex nearly every night but I have to say it was something I had always wanted to do."

According to the site's administrator Philip Patrick many of the couples looking to broaden their sexual horizons are older. "Attitudes to age have changed -- 50 is the 30," he says.

"I've been surprised by how many more mature men and women are looking to get involved in swinging. I think it's when the children have flown the coop and the couple want to spice up their sex life but after so many years together there's nothing new to discover. The couple still love each other, but want to try something new and exciting together."

A negative side effect is that STIs in the over 50s are rising fast. According to the Family Planning Association, a lot of older people don't think that safe sex applies to them, whether it's because they've passed menopause or are coming out of a long-term relationship where condom use was never an issue.

A campaign launched earlier this year sought to drive home the message: "STIs don't care about greying hair or a few wrinkles. If you're having unprotected sex, an STI will find you just as attractive whatever your age."


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