Pregnancy prevention and contraceptive preferences of online sex workers in the UK


Objectives: The internet has changed the organisation of sex work. The risk of sexually transmitted infections has frequently been a research focus, but less is known about sex workers’ use of contraception for pregnancy prevention. The aim of this research was to gain a better understanding of contraceptive preferences and provider interactions of online sex workers. Methods: Data were obtained from a multi-methods study of sex workers in the UK who advertise on the internet and have sexual contact with clients, particularly in the Birmingham and Solihull areas. The study comprised an online survey among 67 participants and eight qualitative interviews. Results: Reported high rates of condom use with clients led to sex workers considering pregnancy prevention to be a personal rather than an occupational issue. Disclosure of sex working to health professionals is often seen as unnecessary and/or undesirable due to concerns about stigma. A clear distinction between contraceptive needs for commercial and non-commercial partners was evident. Conclusion: Service providers need to take account of both personal and commercial needs during contraceptive consultations and avoid making assumptions based on homogeneous understandings of sex work. Encouraging disclosure of sex work to facilitate appropriate discussions may need new approaches to combat privacy and stigma concerns.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Policy
College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture (CCISC)
College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities
College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Psychology
College of Health & Life Sciences
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in The European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care on 15 Oct 2019, available online at:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Contraception,disclosure,internet,pregnancy,sex work,stigma,Reproductive Medicine,Obstetrics and Gynaecology,Pharmacology (medical)
Publication ISSN: 1362-5187
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2024 09:19
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2019 11:49
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: https://www.tan ... rnalCode=iejc20 (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2019-11-02
Published Online Date: 2019-10-15
Accepted Date: 2019-09-26
Authors: Lowe, Pamela (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-5933-453X)
Pilcher, Katy (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-5973-8251)
Pattison, Helen M (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-9483-4342)
Whittaker, Victoria
Robertson, Claire
Ross, Jonathan



Version: Accepted Version

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