From today, women aged 17 to 25 can go to their GP and register for free contraception, such as the pill or a coil insertion.

Women who access contraception through a medical card can also avail of the new scheme.

The cost of removing a current contraceptive device is also covered.

The move comes as part of the Health Act 2022, which was passed by the Oireachtas earlier this year.

The National Women’s Council has welcomed the measure and says it should be expanded to women outside of the age range.

Alana Ryan, from the National Women’s Council, says it opens up contraception to all young women regardless of their financial situation.

‘It really removes the huge cost which is such a barrier to accessing the most effective forms so this is really good news today and I think it gives us a strong foundation that we can build on and that requires additional investment for budget 2023.’