An international dating site that pairs younger women off with wealthy middle-aged men has noted a sharp rise in the numbers of hard-up Irish nurses signing up for the service.

Chiefs of U.S.-based have attributed the soaring cost of living and skyrocketing rental market to a substantial rise in registrations from Ireland over the past year.

More than 5,000 so-called “sugar babies” have signed up to the service over the past year, with registrations between June and September surging by 37 percent.

According to newly-released data, the number of cash-strapped healthcare professionals, including "a substantial number of nurses," has increased by 41 percent, more than any other sector.

Commenting on the findings, Steven Pasternack, owner of the Florida-headquartered site, said the cost of living crisis had played a significant part in driving up the service's new registrations to over five million globally.

Typically the average sugar daddy is aged between 35 and 55, with "an above average income,” often a doctor, lawyer or business owner.  Meanwhile, sugar babies tend to be between 20 and 35, and "above average looking."

Pasternack added, "An increase in members joining from Ireland has come from a variety of sectors.  However, we've particularly noticed the number of healthcare workers who've joined the site has been very high.  This number includes a substantial number of nurses."

One Irish nurse who signed up to the dating service said her "crippling financial situation" left her with no choice.

Jane (not her real name), a Dublin-based junior midwife, said she was forced to sleep on a friend's couch before she was matched with a wealthy tech developer, also based in the Irish capital, who provides her with a generous monthly allowance.

She said, "Joining seemed like an unusual way of securing financial stability, but it's been a life-saver from a source that I least expected."

Another Dublin-based nurse, who was matched with a wealthy man, told how her "unimaginable financial stress" left her with no other option.

Kerry (not her real name) added, "I feel I'm one of the lucky ones, as I no longer need food banks or have to wonder how I'm going to pay my bills."