Ireland

Emergency contraception (EC) is available in Ireland: EC is included in Ireland’s drug reimbursement policies and is available for purchase from pharmacies, hospitals, and family planning clinics. In December 2017 the national health authorities announced that EC pills can be provided free of charge at the pharmacies, without presenting a General Doctor’s prescription, in order to make timely access easier. EC is not included in national policies for family planning.

Sexual & reproductive health background information

Female population aged 15-49 Mean age at first sexual intercourse Mean age at birth of first child Total fertility rate % use of modern contraceptive methods
Estimate 1,126,0001 17.32 29.83 2.044 61.4%5
Year 2010 2005 2011 2011 2004-05

Accessibility & prescription status

In Ireland, LNG EC is available behind the counter from pharmacies, hospitals, family planning clinics, and general practitioners, which means that EC is available without a prescription but is not on the shelves and needs to be requested in order to purchase. Since May 2015 UPA EC is also available without a prescription (behind the counter) from pharmacies and in family planning clinics.

Both physicians and pharmacists are authorized to prescribe or provide LNG EC.

Cost

Type of EC Approximate Cost Brand(s) Available
LNG € 40,47 (€ 6.01 if reimbursed) NorLevo, Levonelle 1500
UPA € 57,82 (€ 19,60 if reimbursed) ellaOne

Until 2017, the cost of LNG EC was fully reimbursed when sold with a prescription to medical card holders, and it was delivered free of charge to low-income populations as well as to rape victims. The cost of UPA EC is reimbursed to the patient only if that patient is four or five days post coitus, and it is also delivered free of charge to low-income populations. In December 2017 the health authorities announced that medical card holders can obtain EC pills free of charge directly from the pharmacies (6) without presenting a GP prescription.

Guidelines & common practices

Although there are no medical guidelines devoted to EC, most practitioners in Ireland use the ones published by the UK Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare. In 2015 and 2016 respectively, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland issued guidance for pharmacists on the safe supply of non-prescription UPA and LNG EC pills.

Health care providers sometimes provide general information about EC during regular consultations but rarely prescribe EC in advance of need. Health care providers do not require a pregnancy test or a pelvic exam before prescribing EC.

EC use

Ever use of EC EC use in the last 12 months % with no prescription Repeated use of EC in last 12 months
Estimate n/a n/a n/a n/a
Year n/a n/a n/a n/a

 

Sources

1 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision. New York, 2011.

2 Durex Global Sex Survey Results 2005. Retrieved 20 June 2013, from http://www.durex.com/en-jp/sexualwellbeingsurvey/documents/gss2005result.pdf.

3 United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Statistical Division Database. Mean Age of Women at Birth of First Child by Country and Year. Updated 23 November 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2013, from http://w3.unece.org/pxweb/dialog/varval.asp?ma=04_GEFHAge1stChild_r&path=../database/STAT/30-GE/02-Families_households/&lang=1&ti=Mean+age+of+women+at+birth+of+first+child.

4 European health for all database (HFA-DB), World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe. Total fertility rate. Retrieved 18 June 2013, from http://data.euro.who.int/hfadb/.

5 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. World Contraceptive Use 2012. New York, 2012.

(6) Health Services Executive. “HSE advises that emergency hormonal contraception is available from pharmacists without a prescription up to five days after unprotected sex. [Internet]. HSE.ie. 2018. Available from https://www.hse.ie/eng/services/news/media/pressrel/hse-advises-that-emergency-hormonal-contraception-is-available-from-pharmacists-without-a-prescription-up-to-five-days-after-unprotected-sex-.html

Last update: February 2019