Northern Ireland women 'ignoring contraception'
Almost half of sexually active women in Northern Ireland have had unprotected sex in the last two years despite not planning a pregnancy, a survey has found.
The Family Planning Association (FPA) released the findings to mark the beginning of its annual Sexual Health Week.
Among the key results for Northern Ireland in the survey of 2,000 people was that 46% of women said asking for emergency contraception was embarrassing.
More than half (54%) wrongly thought that using emergency contraception effectively causes an abortion, or were not sure.
Another 50% do not know where to get emergency contraception, and only 12% think health professionals give enough details about contraception methods.
The FPA's director of health and wellbeing Natika Halil said: "We know there are lots of reasons women may choose not to use emergency contraception when they are not planning a pregnancy – including that they are happy to leave it to chance.
"However, our research has shown many barriers exist for women – including a lack of knowledge of what emergency contraception is, how it works and where you can get it. There are also endless myths and misconceptions, which leave many women with a real sense of confusion and worry.
"These include a misplaced belief that you can't get pregnant because of where you are in your menstrual cycle or because of your age. Worryingly, many women are also told that using emergency contraception is the same as an abortion. This is wrong.
"Sexual Health Week this year is all about dispelling those myths and reminding women that using emergency contraception is a responsible choice that shouldn't leave you feeling embarrassed."