Contraception

Contraceptive services in Ireland

Birth control or contraception is the use of medicines, devices, or surgery to prevent pregnancy.

You can get contraception from most pharmacies in Ireland. Most contraception will need a prescription from a GP but you do not need a prescription for emergency contraception or condoms.

You can get prescriptions for contraceptive drugs and devices, as well as advice about contraception from GPs, voluntary organisations and private family planning clinics. Voluntary and private family planning clinics usually have charges but may waive them or have lower fees in certain cases.

You can read about the different contraceptive options and services on the HSE website sexualwellbeing.ie. This includes information on:

  • Hormonal, non-hormonal and long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs)
  • Permanent contraception such as male vasectomy and female sterilisation.

Is contraception free in Ireland?

You can get free contraception if you are:

  • A woman or person with a uterus
  • Aged 17 to 35
  • Living in Ireland

What contraception costs are free for people aged 17 to 35?

  • Any GP appointments about your contraception options
  • Contraception prescriptions from your doctor (at participating pharmacies)
  • Emergency contraception (the morning-after-pill)
  • Fitting, removal and check-ups of long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs)
  • Other types of contraception such as contraceptive injections, implants, IUS and IUDs (coils), the contraceptive patch and contraceptive ring
  • Prescriptions for combined oral contraception (the daily pill)

How do I get free contraception if I am aged 17 to 35?

You do not need a medical card.

Book an appointment with a GP or doctor to discuss your contraception. This appointment will be free. Read about what to expect at the doctor and questions you might ask the doctor about your contraception.

If you do not have a GP or do not want to go to a GP you can also get free contraception from some family planning clinics, women’s health clinics, student health clinics or health centres.

Freephone the HSE on 1800 700 700 to find a GP or clinic offering free contraception.

At your appointment, you will need your:

  • PPS number
  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Address

Your information is used to let the pharmacy know not to charge you for your free contraception prescription. You can also collect your free contraception from some family planning clinics.

Read more about the free contraception scheme for women aged 17 to 35.

Does the medical card cover contraception?

Yes. If you have a medical card, you get free contraceptive drugs, devices and free GP services including contraceptive advice. You can also get emergency contraception with the medical card.

You will have to pay a prescription charge for items you get from pharmacies under the medical card scheme.

If you do not have a medical card, and you are not eligible for the free contraception scheme (above), you will have to pay for contraception and contraceptive services. You may be able to reduce the cost of your contraception through the Drug Payment Scheme. For example, the cost of long-acting reversible contraceptives such as the IUS (hormonal coil) or IUD (copper coil). You may also be able to claim tax relief on medical expenses.

Can I get free condoms in Ireland?

Using condoms every time you have sex will reduce your risk of contracting a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI).

You can get free condoms from:

You can also buy condoms without a prescription from many supermarkets, newsagents and pharmacies.

Condoms are not free under the medical card or free contraception scheme.

If you think you might have an STI you should get tested

Some STIs can cause serious health problems if left untreated. Free STI testing is available in these hospitals. You can also order a free STI test to take at home.

You can read more about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) from the Department of Health website.

Emergency contraception

Emergency contraception is a back-up contraception. You can use emergency contraception to stop an unplanned pregnancy after you have had sex without using contraception, or if your method of contraception has failed (for example, the condom slipped, or you missed a pill).

You can choose different types of emergency contraception options:

  • The emergency contraceptive pill (sometimes called the morning-after pill)
  • The copper coil (also known as post-coital IUD)

When can I use emergency contraception?

You can use emergency contraception up to 5 days after having unprotected sex, but it is more effective the sooner you take it after unprotected sex.

Where can I get emergency contraception in Ireland?

You can get emergency contraception tablets over the counter in most pharmacies without having to go to a doctor for a prescription.

You can get free emergency contraception if:

  • You have a medical card, or
  • You are a woman or person with a uterus, aged 17 to 35 and living in Ireland

You can read about emergency contraception on the HSE website sexualwellbeing.ie.

Unplanned pregnancy in Ireland

If you have an unplanned pregnancy and need support, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has free confidential counselling and information services to help you consider your options and access the services that you need.

My Options is a HSE free phone line and webchat providing free and confidential information and counselling for people experiencing unplanned pregnancy. This counselling and information service is also available to you if your partner is going through an unplanned pregnancy. You can read more about these services in our page on unplanned pregnancy.

You can read how to get an abortion on the HSE website.

Read about HSE supports if you choose to continue with your pregnancy.

More information on contraception

My Options

HSE
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday: 9am to 8pm Saturday: 10am to 2pm
Tel: Outside the Republic of Ireland: +353 59 913 8175
Locall: 1800 828 010

Sexualwellbeing.ie

HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme
Page edited: 1 July 2024