Contraceptive needs of female sex workers in Kenya - A cross-sectional study

Elizabeth G. Sutherland, Jane Alaii, Sharon Tsui, Stanley Luchters, Jerry Okal, Nzioke King'Ola, Marleen Temmerman, Barbara Janowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Background and objectives Female sex workers (FSWs) are thought to be at heightened risk for unintended pregnancy, although sexual and reproductive health interventions reaching these populations are typically focused on the increased risk of sexually transmitted infections. The objective of this study of FSWs in Kenya is to document patterns of contraceptive use and unmet need for contraception. Methods This research surveys a large sample of female sex workers (N=597) and also uses qualitative data from focus group discussions. Results The reported level of modern contraceptives in our setting was very high. However, like in other studies, we found a great reliance on male condoms, coupled with inconsistent use at last sex, which resulted in a higher potential for unmet need for contraception than the elevated levels of modern contraceptives might suggest. Dual method use was also frequently encountered in this population and the benefits of this practice were clearly outlined by focus group participants. Conclusion These findings suggest that the promotion of dual methods among this population could help meet the broader reproductive health needs of FSWs. Furthermore, this research underscores the necessity of considering consistency of condom use when estimating the unmet or undermet contraceptive needs of this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-182
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Contraception
  • Female
  • Kenya
  • Prostitution
  • Reproductive history


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