One third of Irish women do not use contraception

One in three Irish women do not use any form of contraception and almost one in 10 rely on natural methods.

Even when women planning to have a child this year are excluded, there are still one in five not protecting themselves against pregnancy.

An online study of 681 women aged 18 to 45 found more than a quarter (27%) use condoms, with the same numbers using the pill. One in 20 women starts using hormonal contraception within weeks of beginning a new relationship, with 16% using it within a month.

The study for Bayer Healthcare found one in six women (17%) had used emergency contraception in the last two years and 5% had used it more than once.

However, more than a third (34%) of women who used emergency contraception said the experience did not make them consider their long-term contraception needs.

Medical director of the Dublin Well Woman Centre, Dr Shirley McQuade, was surprised such a high number of women were not using any contraception.

She pointed out that three out four women surveyed (73%) said they were not planning to have a child for at least a year.

Dr McQuade said the free cervical check had helped the Well Woman Centre to identify a number of women in sexual relationships who were not protecting themselves against pregnancy.

“There are long-acting options that a significant number of Irish women of every age could consider — like intrauterine contraception, hormonal implants and injections, all of which are reversible,” she said.

However, while more than half of the women (53%) knew that long-acting forms of contraception are suitable for women of all ages, usage is low.

The pill was considered to be the most effective form of contraception by 45% of women, followed by sterilisation (38%) and condoms (27%). And almost eight out of 10 (78%) said they discussed contraception with their partner.

Asked about family plans, one in eight (13%) intend having a child within a year, while 11% want to have a baby within two years.

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