33% of Munster women not using any contraception
A study of women aged 18-45 in Munster has found that a third (33%) are not currently using any form of contraception.
That's according to research undertaken for Bayer Healthcare, which also found that another 6% of women said they use natural methods, including the rhythm method, withdrawal, and other traditional forms of contraception.
The study was undertaken to assess attitudes towards contraception, raise awareness of the importance of being informed and launch a new, free booklet, 'A Smart Woman's Guide to Contraception'.
It was carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes on behalf of Bayer Healthcare, and it found that a quarter of women in Munster (24%) use condoms, with about the same number (26%) using short-acting hormonal contraception, such as the pill.
The figures also showed that in the last two years, one in seven Munster women surveyed (14%) had accessed emergency contraception, with 5% accessing it more than once.
In spite of this, almost a third of women in the region (30%) said that accessing emergency contraception did not prompt them to look at their contraception needs in a long-term way.
One in ten (9%) women start using hormonal contraception within weeks of beginning a new relationship, rising to 18% within a month.
Cork doctor Susan McLaughlin said she was surprised that such a high number of women are not using any contraception.
"Even when you remove those women who are planning on having a child this year (10%), that still leaves one Munster woman in four (23%) who are neither using contraception nor planning on getting pregnant within the year. The typical woman needs to consider contraception for up to 30 years of her life," said Dr McLaughlin.
Overall, nearly three in four women surveyed in Munster (72%) are not planning to have a child for at least one year.
"There are long-acting options that a significant number of Irish women of every age could consider – like intrauterine contraception, hormonal implants, and injections, all of which are reversible," Dr McLaughlin said.
Awareness of long-acting forms of contraception is moderate, and more than half of women in Munster (52%) recognised it is suitable for women of all ages, however usage in the region is low. 6% have had an injection, 9% have used an intrauterine system (a hormonal coil, which differs from a copper coil), and 9% have had a hormonal implant. Willingness to try such methods is approximately double the usage figures.
The study showed that Munster women consider the pill to be the most effective form of contraception overall (46%), followed by sterilisation (32%), condoms (28%), hormonal implants (19%), then intrauterine systems (14%), and injections (11%).
In the study, 76% said they discuss contraception with their partner, and 49% claim to share joint responsibility for it.