New research shows majority of women in Ireland are using ineffective contraception to prevent pregnancy. Government needs to prioritise its commitment to free contraceptive scheme.

  • Most comprehensive research in 10 years shows over half of Irish women use contraception most linked with failure
  • Almost a third of women aged 17-45 have had sex in the past where the contraception failed, and this resulted in a pregnancy
  • 1 in 2 women aged 17 – 45 claimed that they have had sex where no contraception was used
  • Irish women face significant barriers in accessing their preferred type of contraception

New Dublin Well Woman Centre research published on 24 November 2020 on contraception in Ireland has revealed serious misunderstandings and misconceptions by Irish women on contraception and fertility. The research, commissioned by the Dublin Well Woman Centre, and carried out by Empathy Research, has revealed shocking levels of misunderstanding and a preference by women in Ireland to use forms of contraception which are proven to be least effective in preventing pregnancy.

Almost 9 out of 10 (87%) of those surveyed cited pregnancy prevention as the most important factor when choosing a form of contraception. However, the majority of women surveyed use forms of contraception which are the least effective in preventing pregnancy.

The survey findings also show a worrying over-reliance on Emergency Contraception in many cases.  While there are 3 and 5-day Emergency Contraceptive pills available over the counter, these are less effective than regular contraception and they do not address the need for a longer-term form of contraception. Read more…

Report on a Trichomonas Vaginalis Prevalence Study Undertaken in the Clinics between November 2013 and March 2014

Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) is a sexually transmitted infection(STI) which can cause vaginal discharge in women and urethral discharge in men. Both sexes may experience pain on urination. The infection does not normally cause serious health problems but it can cause complications in pregnancy such as early labour and low birth weight. Rarely, it can cause inflammation of the prostate gland in men. Like other STIs it may cause no symptoms but can be transmitted to new sexual contacts. Current testing in primary care involves taking a vaginal swab test in women or a urethral swab test in men which is sent to a microbiology laboratory for analysis. The sample is checked under a microscope to look for the presence of the organism. Overall the detection rate for TV is very low. Nationally only 81 cases were notified to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre in 2012 and 76 in 2013. This is considered to be a gross underestimate of the true numbers of people with the infection.

Laboratory testing techniques have greatly improved with the use of molecular detection methods. Chlamydia and gonorrhoea infections are now diagnosed in this way. The National Virus Reference Laboratory introduced joint chlamydia / gonorrhoea testing in 2011. A similar test is available for TV but is not yet routinely available.

We recruited 365 patients into the study. Some had symptoms (206) either vaginal discharge or pain on urination, others had no symptoms (136) but were attending for routine screening. All patients were managed according to normal practice but in addition an extra test for TV was taken.

The National Virus Reference Laboratory analysed all the samples.


The majority of patients (52%; 189) reported having between 0–1 partners within the last year, 34.5% (126) between 2–3 partners and 4.4% (16) had > 4 partners.

  • TV 4 positive tests
  • Chlamydia 10 positive tests
  • Gonorrhea no infections found

Three out of the four people with TV had symptoms. Three out of ten with chlamydia had symptoms. As a result of this study the NVRL plan to introduce routine TV testing from March 2015.

We would like to thank all the patients who agreed to take part, all the clinic and laboratory staff who worked on the project and the ICGP ethics committee who approved the study.


Preventing Cervical Cancer

In 2010, Well Woman worked with the CERVIVA research group to conduct an important national survey of women’s views about preventing cervical cancer. Many women, from all walks of life across Ireland, including those who have never had a smear test, were asked to take part in the survey, which aimed to find out what women in Ireland think about cervical cancer and smear tests, with a view to helping improve information and health services for women in Ireland in the future.

You can find out more about the CERVIVA research group at CERVIVA is an independent research consortium, and is funded by the Health Research Board.


Risky Sexual Behaviour

In 2003/04, and in partnership with the Crisis Pregnancy Agency, Well Woman carried out research in its Liffey Street medical centre. The research looked at Risky Sexual Behaviour by examining the links between alcohol consumption and demand for Emergency Contraception.

Read a summary of the project’s findings

Human Papilloma Virus

In 2004, Well Woman was involved in a study into prevalence rates for HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) in Ireland.

Further information on HPV and the research