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.
In Budget 2023 it was announced that the age range for free contraception will be extended to include women aged 16 and aged 26 to 30, from 1 September 2023. This change requires legislation.
Is contraception free in Ireland?
You can get free contraception if you are:
How do I get free contraception if I am aged 17 to 26?
You do not need a medical card.
You need to book an appointment with a GP or doctor to discuss your contraception. This appointment will be free. The GP and pharmacy will ask for your:
Your GP will use this information 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.
Is contraception covered by my medical card?
If you have a medical card, you get free contraceptive drugs, devices and free GP services including contraceptive advice. This also includes emergency contraception.
You will have to pay a prescription charge for items you get from pharmacies under the medical card scheme.
What is the situation, if I do not have a medical card?
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
Condoms are not free under the medical card or free contraception scheme.
You can get free condoms from:
- Sexual health or GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinics
- Some sexual health NGOs
- Many third level colleges
Where can I get emergency contraception?
Emergency contraception is a back-up 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.
You can get emergency contraception tablets (sometimes called the morning-after pill) 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 26 and living in Ireland
You can read more about contraception services on the HSE website: www.sexualwellbeing.ie.
The Citizen Information Centre’s telephone lines in Cork City are monitored from 10am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. In addition, the Cork City Centre CIC in Cornmarket Street is open to the public from 10am to 12.30pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays, while the Blackpool CIC is open to the public each morning from 10am to 1pm, Monday to Friday. Full details on their website.