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Govt’s plan for free contraception ‘must focus on LARCs’

Dr Caitriona Henchion, Medical Director of the IFPA, said: “The Government’s priority must be improving access to the most effective methods of contraception: long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs).”

These include the injection, which lasts up to three months; the implant, which lasts up to three years; and hormonal and non-hormonal intra-uterine devices (coils), which last up to ten years.

“As well as being the most effective form of contraception to prevent unintended pregnancy, LARCs are also more cost-effective in the long-term than other methods,” said Dr Henchion.

However, LARC uptake in Ireland is relatively low, partly due to the significant initial cost to women.

“A low level of awareness among women and healthcare providers about the suitability of LARCs is another a major factor in the low uptake,” said Dr Henchion. “For example, there is often a misconception that LARCs are not suitable for women who haven’t had children.”

IFPA Chief Executive Mr Niall Behan said: “We carried out an in-depth analysis of IFPA client preferences in 2015 and found that 39 per cent of clients chose LARCs as their method of contraception—just over double the national estimated rate. This highlights the important role specialised family planning clinics have in supporting women to consider this form of contraception.”

He added: “The IFPA campaigned for the availability of emergency contraception over the counter in pharmacies because it was the best way to improve access for women who need it. But to really have an impact on unintended pregnancy, women need comprehensive information and a choice of all methods including LARCs, which can only be provided by doctors.”

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