New research has found that there are serious misunderstandings and misconceptions among Irish women about contraception and fertility.

Commissioned research by the Dublin's Well Woman Centre, which is published today, shows there is also a "concerning over reliance" on emergency contraception in many cases.

A survey of over 1,000 women in Ireland found there is a preference for types of contraception that are proven to be "least effective" in preventing pregnancy.

Almost nine out of ten cited pregnancy prevention as the most important factor when choosing a form of contraception.

The research conducted on women aged between 17 and 45 earlier this year revealed that the contraceptive pill and condoms are the most common forms of contraception used.

The number of respondents who said they used the pill was 28%, while 27% relied on condoms to prevent pregnancy.

The survey found that contraceptive failure is resulting in pregnancy.

However, these are the methods cited most often in contraceptive failure by health experts and international research, according to the Well Woman Centre.

Almost three quarters (73%) of respondents said they had experienced contraceptive failure in the past and they were using a condom or male sheath when the contraception failed.

Just over one in five (21%) said they were using the contraceptive pill when it failed.

The Dublin Well Woman Centre said it is experiencing a growing demand among women for Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives, which it said is proven to be a more effective form of contraception.

It also said Long Acting Contraceptives are the most cost effective in the long-term.

Chief Executive Alison Begas has called on the Government to prioritise its Programme for Government commitment regarding access to free contraception, as recommended by the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, she said the centre wants the Government to introduce a scheme that offers all forms of contraception for free, but it must be accompanied by significant education and information campaigns that enable women to be fully informed on all of their choices.

She said that if the Government is serious about reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies, we "really have to get the contraception piece right."

Last year, the then health minister Simon Harris established a Working Group on Access to Contraception.

It considered the policy, regulatory and legislative issues relating to enhanced access to contraception, following the recommendation of the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment.

The group found that barriers to accessing contraception exist for some people, including lack of local access, cost, embarrassment, inconvenience and lack of knowledge.

It found that there was not a widespread affordability issue, with only 3% of respondents in the Irish Contraception and Crisis Pregnancy Study 2010 identifying cost as a barrier to contraception.

It said making contraception free to the user was not necessarily a solution and any policy proposal should focus on accessibility, education and workforce capacity as well as cost.

In June, the Programme for Government included free contraception over a phased period, starting with women aged 17-25.