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

Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa); Population Health (East Africa)


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.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University

Publication (Name of Journal)

The European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care