The new updated version of The Joy of Sex by Susan Quilliam, first published in 1972, includes 43 new sections not included in the original edition, covering such topics as phone sex, the internet, sex shops and sex during pregnancy. Since the first edition it has been updated four times and sold over eight million copies.

In 1931, a man from the Solomon Islands was jailed for two years for the "sexual violation of a tunny fish".

60 per cent of Britain's country parks are affected by dogging, according to a recent survey by Richard Byrne, environmental affairs expert. Dogging is the practice of either having or observing exhibitionist sex in a public or semi-public place, usually outdoors.

Swinging is rife in Italy, with the internet being held responsible for the loosening of attitudes in this staunchly Catholic country. One source claims that nearly a quarter of the 8m sexually active couples in Italy practise swinging.

The term "homosexuality" was first used in print in Germany in 1869 in two anonymous pamphlets published by an Austrian translator who described himself as "sexually normal" and went by the name of Karl Maria Kertbeny.

In May 2004 under the Sexual Offences Act, bestiality and necrophilia became specific offences in Britain for the first time. Necrophilia, the practice of having sex with dead people, carries a penalty of up to two years' jail. A law against it had hitherto been deemed unnecessary, since there were so few reported cases.

The 2004 Act also criminalised seeking sexual gratification from spying on someone else, while non-consensual oral and anal penetration became part of what could be defined as rape. The Act also made the law on orgies "gender neutral". (Previously, it was illegal for an orgy to take place if there was no-one of the opposite sex involved, and legal if there was.)

In September 1990, 16 men were given fines or prison sentences for engaging in extreme but consensual S&M activities involving, among other things, nails, hammers and "genital abrasions". The case known as the Spanner Case became a libertarian cause clbre, and the Spanner Trust still exists as a body campaigning for sexual tolerance.

In 1993 President Clinton announced a policy allowing homosexuals to serve in the US military, so long as they didn't practise their sexuality on or off base and did not publicly make it known.

Ann Summers, Britain's biggest and most widespread High Street sex shop, sells more than 1.2 million sex toys a year, with an overall revenue in 2007-2008 of 117.3m. However, the chain is not licensed as a sex shop which means that only a small proportion of its product lines are allowed to be sex toys.

Paraphilias involve deriving sexual pleasure from unusual objects. For example: autagonistophilia from erotic pictures of oneself; dendrophilia from trees or vegetables; botulinonia from a sausage.