Irish contraceptive use among highest in world, says UN report
Ireland has one of the highest rates of contraceptive use in the world, according to a United Nations report.
The contraceptive prevalence rate among women aged 18-45 in Ireland is 66%, rising to 70% among women who are married or in “union”, according to the report.
Finland has the highest contraceptive prevalence rate, at 79%, and Canada, China, Cuba, Norway and the United Kingdom also have higher rates than Ireland.
There is an unmet need for family planning among 6% of Irish women, estimates UNFPA, the UN agency for sexual and reproductive health, and 88% of demand is met by modern methods of contraception, according to the UNFPA state of the world. Demographic report 2022.
The fertility rate for Irish women is 1.8, close to the European average but below the replacement rate of around 2.1.
UNFPA says almost half of all pregnancies – about 121 million a year – are unintended. More than 60% of unintended pregnancies and almost 30% of all pregnancies end in abortion, according to the report.
In humanitarian emergencies, such as the war in Ukraine, many women lose access to contraception and/or experience sexual violence.
In Afghanistan alone, an estimated 4.8 million unintended pregnancies will occur by 2025 due to disruptions in the health system and gender inequality, according to UNFPA.
The Covid-19 pandemic has also increased the number of unwanted pregnancies; during the first 12 months of the pandemic, the interruption of contraceptive supplies and services lasted an average of 3.6 months, resulting in 1.4 million unintended pregnancies.
Globally, according to the agency, around 257 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using modern, safe methods of contraception, while nearly a quarter of all women for whom data is available are unable to say no to sex.
Contraceptive use is 53% lower among women who have experienced domestic violence, the report says.