Maggie blames low self-esteem for her unsafe behavior.
| Credit: (VEER)

Maggie blames low self-esteem for her unsafe behavior.(VEER)Twenty-six-year-old Maggie (not her real name), who was diagnosed with chlamydia in her early 20s, says that, in retrospect, talking to a doctor about sexual issues was never a problem for her. Her matter-of-fact attitude makes her a model patient in that respect.

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On the other hand, the unsafe sexual behavior she engaged in during her early 20s was a good example of how psychology factors into sexual health. She was drinking a lot, doing drugs, and not using condoms.

"I was always a little surprised when a doctor would tell me, ‘Dont you know you should use protection?" says Maggie, who now sees her former sexual risk taking as a symptom of depression. "Knowing that something is dangerous or unhealthy is not the problem. Caring that it is dangerous or unhealthy was the problem."

If, like Maggie, you have been knowingly putting your health at risk, you should discuss it with your doctor and consider asking for a referral to a psychotherapist or drug and alcohol counseling program. Or visit this government clearinghouse to find local support.