Women of a certain age might once have accepted a dwindling love life as part of getting older. Sales of risque lingerie among women in their 40s and 50s have soared in recent months, according to retailers.

kim cattrall dating alan wyse-15kim cattrall dating alan wyse-8kim cattrall dating alan wyse-79

Frances Russell, trading director of lingerie at M&S, said: 'We launched the Portfolio lingerie brand this season because there was a clear demand for sexy, flattering underwear for the 45 plus market.

'The range has proved to be a clear favourite with this kind of customer.

'We have recently introduced sexier shapes such as the cheeky Brazilian knicker, and that is selling particularly well.

Debenhams said its highest lingerie sales among women in their 40s and 50s are in London.

Older women in Edinburgh, Brighton and Liverpool are also spending more on underwear.

The store's head lingerie buyer, Annette Warburton, said the booming sales showed women in their forties no longer thought getting married and having children should necessarily mean neglecting their love life.

She said: 'Women in their forties are being touted as the new twenties, and lingerie designers are stepping up to the mark to feed this demand.'We definitely expect the market to continue to grow in the future.' Surveys have shown that today's 40-year-old women enjoy much more active sex lives than those of previous generations.

One third of women over forty said they were having more sex now than 20 years ago - and more than half had more orgasms.

Unlike those in their twenties, older women said they had no inhibitions when it came to spicing up their sex life A third reported having sex in a candlelit bath, a third on the kitchen table and more than half in a car.

Annette Warburton said: 'Positive female role models in this age group, such as the women in Sex And The City, are giving the women confidence to splash out on themselves.' Marks & Spencer has also been keen to cash in on the 'cougar' trend.

It has launched a range of lingerie specifically aimed at the '45 plus market' - and says that the raciest styles are proving the most popular.