Family Planning

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Care services for Maternity

In Ireland, every woman is eligible to free maternity care under the maternity and infant scheme. This scheme offers an agreed care programme to all expectant mothers who is an ordinary resident in Ireland.

Preparing Yourself For Pregnancy

So, you are thinking about becoming pregnant, there are a few important things you must do to give yourself and the baby the best chance for a very healthy and happy pregnancy.  A lot of couples will not have planned their pregnancy’s but do not panic you can prepare yourself and have fun.

Pregnancy Stages

The Opening first trimester (0-13 weeks):

  • The first trimester lasts from week 1-13 up to the last week by then your baby will have formed completely.
  • A lot happens to you in the first trimester some the early symptoms you may experience are fatigue, nausea, breast tenderness, and much more.

The 2nd trimester (14-26 weeks):

  • Your baby is very busy throughout these weeks as it is developing and gaining weight and you will find that you also will start to increase in weight as fat is laid for energy reserves.
  • Your baby is now becoming very active and you will able to feel your baby move with little jabs and kicks.

The 3rd trimester (27-birth weeks):

  • You’re on the home stretch of your pregnancy and your baby is now growing rapidly, your baby’s lungs and all senses will start to develop.
  • You will also urinate more often, and Braxton hicks usually starts around about now.

Helpful Resources

HSE – Maternity Services – Pregnancy & Parenting website

Children’s Primary Immunisation Schedule

In Ireland, it is important and recommended that your child receives the immunisation as a way of protecting them from certain diseases. It is very safe and effective.

Here is the following information on ages to vaccinate:

From birth, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12 months all free of charge in GP.

Will vaccines still work if my child hasn’t received on the correct month?

Yes. The vaccines will still work it is never too late to catch up on missed vaccine shots. The vaccines that were already given to your child will still protect them and they will continue to develop, confide with your GP if you have any concerned questions.

Additional Information

Your child’s immunisation – A guide for parents (English)

School Programme

Here is a list of booster doses that your child would need while attending school to protect them against diseases:

Child Safety

Promoting child safety and preventing unintentional injuries to your child is what parents and guardians should be supporting to make changes in the children’s everyday world.

Here is a link to further information on child safety programme:

HSE – Child Safety Programme

On average, men go to their GP half as often as women. It’s important to be aware of changes to your health, and to see your GP immediately if you notice something that’s not right.

Prostate Cancer

In Ireland, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, after skin cancer. Each year about 2,500 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed. This means that 1 in 12 Irishmen will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. Although there are many men with this disease, most men do not die from it.


  • difficulty in starting to pass urine
  • a weak, sometimes intermittent flow of urine
  • dribbling of urine before and after urinating
  • a frequent or urgent need to pass urine
  • rarely, blood in your urine or semen and pain when passing urine

These symptoms aren’t always caused by prostate cancer but if you have them, see your GP.

Find out more about the symptoms, causes and diagnosis of prostate cancer by using the resources below.


Irish Cancer Society – Prostate Cancer

HSE – Prostate Cancer

Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is quite rare, but it is the most common cancer found in young men aged between 15 and 34 years. Each year about 164 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer in Ireland. This number has been growing over the past few years.

What to Look Out For

The most common symptom of testicular cancer is swelling or a pea-sized lump in one of the testes (balls). There is no current screening test therefore it is important that you look out for the following signs and symptoms.

  • A dull ache, or sharp pain, in your testicles, or scrotum, which may come and go
  • A feeling of heaviness in your scrotum
  • A dull ache in your lower abdomen
  • A sudden collection of fluid in your scrotum
  • Fatigue, and generally feeling unwell.


Irish Cancer Society – Information on Testicular Cancer

HSE – Testicular Cancer

These links all come from trusted resources but if you are unsure about these or any other medical matters please contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice

Cervical Screening (Smear Tests)

Cervical screening is a method of preventing cervical cancer by detecting abnormal cells in the cervix (lower part of the womb). Cervical screening is not a test for cancer, but it is a test to check the health of the cervix.

Most women’s test results show that everything is normal. But for one in 20 women, the test will show some changes in the cells of the cervix.

In Ireland about 200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. It is the second most common female cancer in Europe.

HSE – Cervical Screening
The why, when & how guide to cervical screening
CervicalCheck – The National Cervical Screening Programme provides free smear tests to women aged 25 to 60. A smear test is a simple procedure that only takes minutes and is the most effective way to detect changes in the cells of the cervix.

HPV Vaccination

The HPV vaccine will protect girls from developing cervical cancer when they are adults and is available free of charge from the HSE.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has extended the national HPV vaccination programme since September 2011. We continue to target all girls in 1st year of second level schools in a school based programme to ensure high vaccine uptake. In addition there is also a catch up programme for all girls who are in 6th year of second level school in September 2012. This will be repeated in September 2013 which will result in all unvaccinated girls in the senior cycle of second level schools being offered HPV vaccine.

Vaccines are in the most part given to girls in second-level schools by HSE immunisation teams, with some girls being invited to special clinics for their vaccine.

All girls require three doses of vaccine with a two month interval between the 1st and 2nd dose and a four month interval between the 2nd and 3rd doses.

The programme aims to achieve a high uptake of over 80% for a completed three dose vaccine course

What is Human papilloma virus (HPV)?
Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the name of a family of viruses that affect the skin and the moist membranes that line your body, such as those in your cervix, anus, mouth and throat. These membranes are called the mucosa.

There are more than 100 different types of HPV viruses, with about 40 types affecting the genital area. These are classed as high risk and low risk.

How you get HPV?
Types of HPV that affect the skin can be passed on by skin contact with an affected person. The types of HPV that affect the mouth and throat can be passed on through kissing. Genital HPV is usually spread through intimate, skin to skin, contact during sex. You can have the genital HPV virus for years and not have any sign of it.

How HPV can cause cervical cancer?
Most HPV infections are harmless or cause genital warts, however some types can cause cervical cancer. Most HPV infections clear up by themselves, but in some people the infection can last a long time. HPV infects the cells of the surface of the cervix where it can stay for many years without you knowing.

The HPV virus can damage these cells leading to changes in their appearance. Over time, these changes can develop into cervical cancer. The purpose of cervical screening (testing) is to detect these changes, which, if picked up early enough, can be treated to prevent cancer happening. If they are left untreated, cancer can develop and may lead to serious illness and death.
HPV Facts and information about the HPV programme

Why, how and when is the vaccination given and what are the side effects

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common female cancer in Ireland. About 2,700 women get breast cancer in Ireland each year. Most of them (8 out of 10) are over 50, but younger women, and in rare cases men, can also get breast cancer.

BreastCheck is a Government-funded programme providing breast screening and invites women aged 50 to 64 for a free mammogram on an area-by-area basis every two years. The aim of BreastCheck is to reduce deaths from breast cancer by finding and treating the disease at an early stage.

HSE – Breast Cancer Information
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, prevention & screening information

These links all come from trusted resources but if you are unsure about these or any other medical matters please contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice

Seasonal Flu Vaccination

Influenza – flu – is a highly infectious and potentially serious illness caused by influenza viruses. Each year the make-up of the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the influenza viruses that the World Health Organization decide are most likely to be circulating in the coming winter.

Vaccination is strongly recommended for:

  • persons 65 and over,
  • those with a long-term medical condition such as diabetes, heart or lung disease,
  • people whose immune system is impaired due to disease or treatment
  • residents of nursing homes and other long stay institutions
  • persons with a body mass index (BMI) over 40
  • pregnant women.(can be given at any stage of pregnancy),
  • healthcare workers
  • carers
  • people with regular close contact with poultry, water fowl or pigs.

For more information on flu immunisation, including background information on the vaccine and how you can get the jab, see the links below.

HSE – Flu Vaccinations

Flu Vaccinations – Frequently Asked Questions – HSE Immunisation Website

Healthy Living

These are lots of ways to help keep yourself well and healthy as you age. The HSE provides some useful resources on different topics to help you find out more about keeping yourself healthy as you age.

Get Active

The site was initially developed to promote the National Physical Activity guidelines. The site has been further developed to become a one-stop shop for physical activity information

Check out the section for older people and help improve your health with a little exercise.

These links all come from trusted resources but if you are unsure about these or any other medical matters please contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.