The internet has changed the organization 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. This research aimed to gain a better understanding of contraceptive preferences and provider interactions of online sex workers.
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. The study comprised an online survey. There were 67 participants and eight qualitative interviews.
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 seen as unnecessary and undesirable due to stigma concerns. A clear distinction between contraceptive needs for commercial and non-commercial partners was evident.
The study concluded that service providers need to consider 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.