More than 10,000 calls were made to the My Options unplanned pregnancy helpline last year, and 2,146 calls were made to the My Options Nursing Helpline.
The figures are contained in the latest annual report from the HSE's Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme, with Helen Deely, Assistant National Director, HSE Health and Wellbeing, describing 2020 as "a very challenging year".
Maeve O’Brien, interim programme lead, HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme, wrote in the report that the service had to respond to a range of challenges posed by the pandemic.
"Closures of social and public venues meant that venue-based health promotion and public engagement activities were not possible; and the ability to access people in need of free condoms and sexual health information via the National Condom Distribution Service (NCDS) was significantly limited," she said.
"Concerns emerged about the effect of the Covid-19 virus on people’s sexual health and wellbeing, particularly in the context of reduced service provision capacity.
"Moreover, a major challenge from a service delivery perspective was that SHCPP team members were temporarily diverted away from sexual health work and redeployed to the Covid-19 response."
According to the report: "There were unprecedented interruptions to normal healthcare activity, with most services affected, including public STI clinics and related testing services. At times, STI services were restricted to emergency appointments only, or had to close temporarily, in particular during the waves of COVID-19 when acute hospital services were severely impacted."
The HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) programme continued, with 2,024 individuals registered and 1,763 individuals dispensed PrEP at least once.
In 2020, 445,658 condoms and 255,370 lubricant sachets were ordered by 64 organisations to distribute among key target groups.