Almost one in 10 women have described their pregnancy as a crisis because of the recession, it has emerged.
The proportion of women reporting a pregnancy as a crisis for financial reasons rose from 2% in 2003 to 9% in 2010 as unemployment soared, the Crisis Pregnancy Agency has revealed.
Dr Stephanie O'Keeffe, agency director, warned that while improved sex education had reduced teenage pregnancies, unwanted or unplanned pregnancy remained an issue for women living in Ireland.
Figures revealed 52% of under-25s felt their pregnancy was a crisis in 2003, compared to 66% in 2010.
"The primary reason why a woman defines a pregnancy as a crisis is because the pregnancy is not planned," she said. "More young women in the 2010 survey reported that they viewed their pregnancy as a crisis because they were 'too young', even though the majority of these pregnancies were occurring to women in their mid-twenties.
"While women are less likely nowadays to define a pregnancy as a crisis because they are not married, the proportion of women reporting that the pregnancy was a crisis for financial reasons has increased from 2% in 2003 to 9% in 2010, which is reflective of the current economic climate."
New research by the HSE programme and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) showed improvements in sex education and contraceptive use among young people.
More than 3,000 adults were questioned in 2010 on a range of topics including contraception, education, crisis pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and the data compared to a 2003 study. It revealed the average age of first sex remained 17 years for men but had risen from 17 to 18 years for women. Some 15% of under-25s had not had sex.
The under-25s were more likely to have received sex education, 86% compared to 57% of 36 to 45-year-olds, and results showed the quality of sex education had also improved. Nine out of 10 under-25s had used contraception the first time they had sex, compared to 80% of 26-35s, and adults who received sex education at home or in school were one-and-a-half times more likely to use contraception on that occasion.
There had also been an increase from 4% to 12% in young people using more reliable methods of contraception such as the implant, injection, the contraceptive ring and the contraceptive patch.