A sex survey, carried out by the Irish Times, aimed to answer the question “Am I normal?,” revealing facts and figures when it comes to the Irish and their sexual activity
The survey, which was taken by over 12,000 people, showed that 7 percent of Irish people (excluding virgins) had not had sex in the last year, 44 percent of those sexually active had sex at least once a week and 14 percent have sex three or more times a week.
Emily Power Smith, a sexologist, said, “If we are going to live in a culture drenched in sexual imagery, sexual innuendo, sexual violence and unrealistic sexual expectations, then surely it is time to provide a platform for dialogue that can inform, educate and empower us to be able to make better choice.”
Power Smith says studies show that “men want more sex and women want better sex."
The survey found that the average age for losing one’s virginity in Ireland is 19. Trish Murphy, a psychotherapist and The Irish Times columnist, said this average should take the pressure off teenage girls who might feel peer pressure.
They found that sexual activity falls off the longer people have been together. Three-quarters of those who have been together for six months to two years have sex at least once a week Of those couples together for more than 30 years, one in three is still having sex at least once a week.
Margaret Dunne, a psychotherapist and psychosexual counselor, explained that the this survey aimed to answer the question “Am I normal?” for the Irish people. She told the Irish Times, “Sex surveys can be a help and comfort to people in understanding and working through their sexual issues.”
Murphy said being sexually active once a week is a good average and added that younger people aren’t as sexually active as we would assume.
The most sexually active group are those aged between 25 and 34 with 51 percent of males and females having sex one or more time per week.
“Most assumptions would be that [people in] the 17-24 age group are having the most sex. Having this debunked is also very useful,” said Murphy.
Power Smith said the statistics fit with what she has observed. She said, “Six months to a year is what we know as the ‘honeymoon period’ . . . It is a physiological fact that we cannot keep producing the same hormones that we did in the beginning. Therefore, we need different skills and levels of communication if we hope to sustain an exciting and satisfying sex life.”
When it comes to casual sex the survey showed that heterosexual males (73 percent) are more likely than heterosexual females (66 percent) to have one-night stands. One in three straight men said they have had more than five. Thirty-seven percent of homosexual men admitted to having had 20 or more one-night stands, compared to nine percent of heterosexual males.
Half of all respondents had engaged in anal sex. The highest percentages in the 25 to 34 age group.
Psychotherapist Brendan Madden said, “Anecdotally, it would be appear that this is linked to greater expectations by heterosexual men of a wider variety of sexual experiences linked to online pornography.”
Although the fact that 50 percent of heterosexual males have had anal sex might shock readers, it is in keeping with other countries' figures.
Power Smith said, “It is worth noting, too, that just because gay men are most likely to have had anal sex, this does not mean that all gay men engage in anal sex all the time. They are more likely to engage in oral sex and mutual masturbation.”
As for oral sex only two percent had never had oral sex while nearly four in ten had engaged in it in the past week. Seventy-five percent of men aged 50 to 64 said they had had oral sex in the past year, compared to 59 percent of women.
The survey found that 40 percent of heterosexual men have had 11 sexual partners or more while just 32 percent of women have had that number. Meanwhile 52 percent of homosexual men have had more than 20.
Approximately one in six has had sex with more than one person at a time. Fourteen percent of heterosexual men had engaged in group sex, while 50 percent of bisexual men and 44 percent of bisexual women had done so as had 59 percent of gay men and 23 percent of lesbians.
The most important question in the survey was: Are people happy with their sex lives?
It seem that women are happiest, but regardless of their sexual orientation women are still having about a 50 / 50 rate of orgasm.
Margaret Dunne, a psychotherapist and psychosexual counselor, said, “The survey discloses a sense of failure among a significant number of respondents when their partner did not orgasm during sex. Communication and realistic expectations are helpful in this context. Research shows that a high proportion of women do not orgasm during penetrative sex, but rather as a result of clitoral stimulation.”
“The higher satisfaction within the lesbian cohort is in line with other studies on sexual satisfaction based on quality.”
Read more: Ten surprising facts about the Irish and sex