The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA), a sexual health charity, and Durex Ireland conducted joint research as part of a new collaboration aiming to create positive change in Ireland’s sexual health and contraception practices.
The research found that a total of 38% of Irish couples use no method of contraception in their relationship.
The most common form of contraception is a condom, with 25% of adults in a relationship using this method.
Following this, 19% of women in a relationship use an oral contraceptive, such as the common pill.
However, while reliance on condoms as a contraceptive method is highest amongst younger adults (18-34) at 41% and across all ages, reliance on the ‘withdrawal’ as a method of contraception is highest amongst 18- to 34-year-olds and lowest for adults aged 55 and over.
In relation to unplanned pregnancies, the research showed that 24% of all women surveyed experienced an unplanned or crisis pregnancy in the past.
Among 18- to 34-year-olds, 16% reported experiencing an unplanned pregnancy.
A total of 17% of all male respondents in a relationship stated that their female partner had experienced an unplanned pregnancy.
Researchers defined an unplanned or crisis pregnancy as a “pregnancy which is neither planned nor desired by the woman concerned and which represents a personal crisis for her”.
Caitriona Henchion, the medical director of the IFPA, said it makes sense to use a reliable form of contraception if a pregnancy would be considered a crisis for a woman or a couple.
“Women of all reproductive ages in Ireland experience pregnancies that are unplanned, unwanted or represent a crisis to them,” Dr Henchion said.
“If a pregnancy would be a crisis for a woman or couple, then it makes sense to use a contraceptive method they can rely on.”
Meanwhile, IFPA chief executive Niall Behan said it is wrong to assume that “unintended” pregnancies only happen to younger women.
“The perception that unintended pregnancy only happens to young women is simply wrong,” he said. “An increasing number of women aged over 35 are attending our pregnancy counselling services.
“But there have never been more contraceptive options. These include hormonal methods, but also barrier methods, such as condoms and diaphragms.”