The new study surveyed a national sample of 1,014 women aged 17-45 and revealed that over half of Irish women use contraception methods most linked to failure

Over a third of Irish women between the ages of 17 and 45 have had an unplanned pregnancy due to contraception failing, a new study has revealed.

The study surveyed a national sample of 1,014 women aged 17-45 and revealed that over half of Irish women use contraception methods most linked to failure.

One in two women in this age bracket said they have had sex where no contraception was used, while the study also revealed an over-reliance on emergency contraception.

The study dubbed as the most comprehensive research on female contraception in Ireland was commissioned by the Dublin Well Woman Centre and carried out by Empathy Research.

Researchers say the results are worrying, as 87pc of those surveyed cited pregnancy prevention as the most important factor when choosing a form of contraception. However, the majority of women surveyed use forms of contraception which are the least effective in preventing pregnancy.

Some 28pc of respondents use the contraceptive pill while 27pc rely on condoms to prevent pregnancy, however, these methods are cited most often in contraceptive failure.

Some 73pc of respondents who experienced contraception failure said they were using a condom while 21pc were using the contraceptive pill.

Overall, 35pc of the women surveyed said they had sex where the contraception failed, and claimed it resulted in a pregnancy.

Some 53pc of this cohort surveyed were not aware that condoms have a 17pc failure rate in typical use, and 49pc were not aware that the failure rate for the pill is 9pc.

When it comes to the ‘withdrawal’ method, 10pc of respondents incorrectly believe it offers 100pc protection from getting pregnant, while 34pc said they have used this method in the past.

One in five women surveyed said they must travel outside their town, city, or village to access the contraception they are currently using.

Speaking about the findings, Shirley McQuade, Medical Director of the Dublin Well Woman Centre said, “The research has shown us that women face many barriers to accessing the most appropriate forms of contraception.

“All women should be able to access contraception that is most appropriate for them, and free of charge. There is no one right form of contraception for each woman and many will change what contraception they use over time.

“Certain forms of contraception are more suitable for certain women and a comprehensive programme would give a woman the choice of which she wanted to use, in consultation with her GP or medical professional.”

She added that Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) like implants or coils are more effective for preventing pregnancy in comparison to condoms and the contraceptive pill.

“Implants and coils are more than 99pc effective. LARCs have an extremely high rate of success, and thus are our best chance of reducing the incidence of unintended pregnancy,” Dr McQuade said.

Alison Begas, Chief Executive Dublin Well Woman Centre, is calling on the government to provide free contraception for women aged 17-25.

“This is the most comprehensive research carried out on contraception in Ireland in the last ten years,” she said.

“The findings show there are still significant mistruths around contraception and fertility amongst women in Ireland. It also points to significant barriers on the part of women who are trying to access their preferred forms of contraception.

“Access to free contraception was a recommendation made by the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment and was included in the Programme for Government earlier this year for women aged 17 – 25 years.

“We are calling on Government to prioritise its Programme for Government commitment as a first step in rolling out a fully State-funded contraception scheme to all women in their reproductive years.”