The Free Contraception Scheme has been expanded from today to include women aged 32-35.

This means that all women aged 17 to 35 are now covered under the scheme.

The service covers the cost of consultations with GPs, family planning, student health and primary care centres, and prescriptions for the wide range of contraceptive options available on the Health Service Executive (HSE) Re-Imbursement List.

It is available to women, girls and other people identifying as transgender or non-binary, who are ordinarily resident in Ireland and for whom prescription contraception is deemed suitable by their doctors.

The scheme is supported by approximately €48 million in funding for 2024.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said: “Improving access to contraception is a government priority and I’m delighted with the success of the Free Contraception Scheme to date. Almost 2,400 GPs and 2,050 pharmacies offer services under the scheme, with more than 189,000 women accessing these services in 2023.

“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.”