Emergency contraceptive pill can be taken up to five days after sex
A 'morning-after-pill' that can be taken up to five days after unprotected sex is now available in pharmacies without a prescription.
The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) said that it welcomed the development which has seen the ellaOne pill become available in pharmacies.
It said that the emergency contraceptive pill is a safe and effective way for women and girls to prevent pregnancy when contraception fails, where no contraception was used, or in the case of sexual assault.
However, it said that it is more effective the sooner it is taken after unprotected sex. It said that ellaOne can be taken up to five days, or 120 hours, after unprotected sex.
However, it should be taken as soon as possible for optimal effect.
Until yesterday, it has only been available on prescription from a GP.
IFPA CEO Niall Behan pointed out that its clinics are open on a Saturday, which is good for women on a medical card who want to access it.
However medical card holders with a prescription must pay a €2.50 charge for medicines from pharmacies.
For private patients attending IFPA clinics, the fee for this service is €65.
"That includes a consultation with our doctors, family planning specialists, it includes talking about long-term options if she wishes, and it includes the pill," Mr Behan said.
"It is a same-day service, which means we guarantee they will be seen the same day."
The IFPA has campaigned for improved access to emergency contraception for a number of years.
Emergency contraception has been available in pharmacies in Ireland since 2011.
However, this is the first time that ellaOne has been made available without prescription directly from pharmacies.
Some forms can only be taken up to three days or 72 hours after unprotected sex.