With so many options on offer you’re bound to have a few questions. We have compiled answers to some of the most common questions below.

This section of the talkoptions.ie website is provided for general information and should not be treated as a substitute for the specific medical advice of your own doctor or medical advisor.

If you have a specific medical query, you should always contact your own doctor or medical advisor.

  • How many methods of contraception are there?

    There are now around 12 methods of contraception available in Ireland. Click here to find out more about each method available. Your doctor or nurse will be able to advise you on which method will suit you best but it's also worth thinking about what you want from contraception too.

  • Are all contraceptive pills the same?

    No. There are two categories of contraceptive pills available – the combined oral contraceptive pill (COC or ‘the Pill') and the progestogen-only pill (POP or the ‘mini pill'). Combined oral contraceptive pills contain both oestrogen and progestogen, whereas progestogen-only pills contain only progestogen. There is a wide range in each group and different pills suit different women – if you are not happy with the pill you are taking – make an appointment with your doctor or nurse who will be able to discuss the contraceptive options available to you.

  • I've just had a baby and I am breastfeeding. Can I still get pregnant?

    Yes. The only time breastfeeding women are protected against unplanned pregnancy is during the first 6 months if:

    • They are breastfeeding their baby fully. This includes not supplementing breast milk with any milk or food, breastfeeding at regular intervals during the day and night with no feeds missed for any reason (e.g. illness)
    • Their periods have not returned

    If you are worried about unplanned pregnancy whilst breastfeeding – consult your doctor or nurse to discuss your contraceptive options.

  • Can I get pregnant the first time I have sex?

    Yes. A woman can get pregnant any time ovulation occurs (an egg is released). This means that a woman can get pregnant the first time they have sex so it's important to use contraception, even if it is your first time.

  • Do I need to use contraception if my boyfriend pulls out before he ejaculates?

    Yes. Pulling out before the man ejaculates, known as withdrawal, is not a foolproof method of contraception. Some sperm might be released before the man actually begins to climax. In addition, some men might not have the willpower or be able to withdraw in time.

  • I've been told that if I have a shower or bath after sex I won't get pregnant, is this true?

    No. Having a bath or shower after sex won't stop you getting pregnant, as sperm may have already entered the womb. You need to use a method of contraception to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.

  • How often can I use the emergency contraceptive pill?

    Emergency contraception should be reserved for true emergencies only and not a substitute for, or to replace your usual method of contraception. As well as the emergency contraceptive pill, the intrauterine device (IUD) can also be used as emergency contraception by fitting it up to 5 days (120 hours) after the earliest predicted ovulation. Click here for more information on emergency contraception.

  • Can I still get pregnant during my period?

    Yes. Although rare, it is possible to become pregnant during your period as pregnancy can occur anytime that sperm gets into the vagina. Women often mistake slight bleeding that can occur with ovulation (when the chance of pregnancy is greatly increased) as their period. Additionally, some women ovulate at the very end of their period and sperm can live in the female reproductive system for up to 7 days. You should always use a method of contraception to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Click here to find out more about each method.

The information on this website is educational only and is not intended to be used for any self-diagnosis purposes nor to replace the advice of your doctor or healthcare professional. Please consult your doctor or healthcare professional for further information on your contraceptive options. This website is intended for use by residents of the Republic of Ireland only. This website is developed and maintained by MSD Ireland (Human Health). See www.msd.ie for more information.

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Registered Address: MSD Ireland (Human Health), Red Oak North, South County Business Park, Leopardstown Dublin 18. 
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Job code WOMN-1178118-0000 Date of preparation: July 2016