Minister Stephen Donnelly launches contraception scheme extension


The Minister for Health has officially launched the further extension of the free contraception scheme.

Stephen Donnelly has confirmed that women between the ages of 32 and 35 are now eligible to access free contraception. 

Currently, the Free Contraception Scheme includes those from the ages of 17 to 35. The scheme is open to women, girls, and other people identifying as transgender or non-binary, who are residing in Ireland and have had a prescription for contraception approved by their doctor.

As well as covering the cost of free contraception, the scheme also covers the cost of GP consultations, family planning, student health and primary care centres.

The scheme was initially introduced by the Government in September 2022 for women aged between 17 to 25. Since then, its high demand has caused Minister Donnelly to widen its age bracket on several occasions. 

Speaking about the latest expansion, Minister Donnelly noted his delight at being able to offer free contraception to more women in Ireland.

“Almost 2,400 GPs and 2,050 pharmacies offer services under the scheme, with more than 189,000 women accessing these services in 2023. Supported by approximately €48m in funding for 2024, we’re now in a position to extend these services to women aged 32 – 35,” he praised.

"We know that many women in this age group may be planning to start families, with 33 years being the average age to give birth. However, it is important that we continue to support women in providing equitable access to services that allow them to control their reproductive health, avoid unintended pregnancies, and to use hormonal contraceptives to treat adverse symptoms of periods,” he added.

For those wanting to find out more information, the HSE has a designated website for sexual health here, which includes full details on how to avail of the scheme.