Irish researchers to play key role in international sex survey

Irish researchers to play key role in international sex survey
A woman cycles past a marriage equality mural in the Liberties area of Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

An Irish university is playing a key role in one of the largest sex surveys ever to be carried out.

Researchers at the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway are taking the lead on a study that will ask tens of thousands of adults around the world about their sex lives.

The International Sex Survey, which can be completed by anyone aged over 18, will try to uncover different sexual behaviours, preferences and motivations linked to the sex lives of adults.

The global research is being led by Dr Beata Bothe, from the University of Montreal in Canada.

In Ireland, Dr Andras Kolto from NUI Galway is taking the lead on the study.

“This is one of the largest surveys about sex ever undertaken in the world. It is important for us as researchers to understand sexual culture, Dr Kolto said.

“While Ireland has been changing, it remains one of the sexually conservative cultures. Sex is not often discussed, and even if it is brought up, there are feelings of shame and guilt.

“People who have sexual problems fear asking for help, and young people do not receive adequate sexuality and relationships education.”

This is the first time data will be collected from people in Ireland on such a large scale, and on such a wide range of sexual topics, including porn consumption, unwanted sex and sexual preferences.

Dr Kolto added: “Recently, we have seen new and honest discourse on some aspects of sexuality in Ireland, in line with an increasing awareness on informed consent and the rights of LGBT+ individuals.

“However, we need more information on those who feel they have problems with their sexual lives, and what those problems are. This will enable the introduction of new supports, guidance and if necessary, legislation.”

The data collected by researchers is expected to better inform understanding of issues such as compulsive sexual behaviour disorders and pornography use.

Dr Bothe said that the research was important due to “little international data on sexuality”.

“It is difficult to make general conclusions on the sexual lives of people across the world. 

"Even the existing studies wildly vary in their methods, the questions they asked and the people they invited, which means that the data from different studies are hardly comparable.”

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