Douching practices among female sex workers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Thanh Cong Bui, Ly T.H. Tran, Michael W. Ross, Christine M. Markham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Several studies indicate that douching has few benefits but numerous adverse health outcomes, including increased risk for sexually transmitted infections and HIV. No published study explores douching practices among Cambodian female sex workers. This report provides preliminary data about the prevalence and frequency of douching among female sex workers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Survey data were obtained from 81 female sex workers who were taken into custody due to engagement in commercial sex from March to June 2011. Results showed that 91% of participants douched. The mean numbers of times douched before sex and after sex per 10 sex episodes were 4.43 (SD = 3.87) and 4.63 (SD = 3.94), respectively. Half of the participants thought that douching could help to prevent sexually transmitted infections including HIV; 24% were unsure about this. Usually, douching after sex was associated with ever obtaining an HIV test (p =.012) and was marginally associated (although not statistically significant) with a higher average number of clients per week (p =. 063) and consistent condom use with clients (p =.053). This suggests that these practices may be related to individual perceptions of sexually transmitted infections/HIV risk or susceptibility. Given the commonness of douching and related misperceptions among Cambodian female sex workers, future studies and interventions are needed to prevent adverse health problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-242
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of STD and AIDS
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 24 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Thanh C Bui’s post-doctoral training has been supported by the UTHealth, School of Public Health, Center for International Training on AIDS Research (funded by NIH grant # AITRP D43 TW007669) and the UTHealth Innovation for Cancer Prevention Research (funded by Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas grant #RP101503). Ly T Tran’s education has been supported by the Vietnam Education Foundation Fellowship, Philanthropic Educational Organization International Peace Scholarship, American Association of University Woman and Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund. We especially thank the staff at the Psycho-Social Service Association, Activities Social Welfare Office, Department of Social Affairs, Veteran & Youth Rehabilitation in Phnom Penh for their assistance with data collection. The content of the manuscript is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research received internal funding from the UTHealth, School of Public Health, Center for International Training on AIDS Research (externally funded by NIH grant # AITRPD43 TW007669).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2014 Reprints and permissions:


  • AIDS
  • Cambodia
  • HIV
  • Intravaginal cleansing
  • douching
  • female sex workers
  • sexually transmitted infections


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