Almost one in three Irish couples has at some point relied on the ‘withdrawal' method of contraception, despite this being unreliable, new research from the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) has found.
According to its findings, a reliance on withdrawal as a method of contraception is highest among those aged 18-34. Some 25% of adults use condoms as their main method of contraception, while 19% of women in relationships are on the pill.
The research was based on a survey of Irish adults, 72% of whom were in committed relationships. Around one-third were aged 18-34, while almost half were aged 35-54.
The research found that 24% of all of the women surveyed had experienced an unplanned or crisis pregnancy in the past and according to IFPA chief executive, Niall Behan, the perception that unplanned pregnancies only happen to younger women ‘is simply wrong'.
"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," Mr Behan commented.
According to the IFPA's medical director, Dr Caitriona Henchion, ‘women of all reproductive ages in Ireland experience pregnancies that are unplanned, unwanted or represent a crisis to them'.
"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. But this recent research shows that some couples are using an unreliable method - withdrawal - rather than condoms or other reliable methods of contraception. This is really concerning and shows that there is a need for more education and knowledge, so that women are empowered to make the choice of contraceptive that's best for them," she said.
The research was released to coincide with an IFPA/Durex collaboration, which will run throughout August and include a national television advert aimed at educating viewers about contraception and unplanned pregnancy.