Birth Control and the Whole Trust Thing

Hormonal birth control. It has been around for a little more than a half-century and in that time it has revolutionized sex. You can argue that it caused the sexual revolution, the spread of HIV, the feminist movement, and other things that have changed society forever. But there’s something you don’t often read about, and that is the trust issue involved, and that is what I’m writing about here.

The trust is a multi-faceted issue. First, does the woman trust her birth control? Second, and more touchy is this issue: does the man trust that the woman is using her birth control correctly, or even using it at all?

Birth Control and the Whole Trust Thing

The reason that these are issues is the flip side of what makes hormonal birth control so popular. Hormonal birth control, particularly the Pill, the implant, and the Depo shot, is invisible. (The Nuvaring is practically invisible, and the patch is unobtrusive). Neither the woman nor the man has to do anything, wear anything, put anything on or in during a sexual episode. Intercourse can take place at any time, at any place, without any preparation, completely spontaneously. There is nothing present to cut down the skin-to-skin sensation of “completely naked” sex. And at one of the most important, exciting moments of intercourse, the man may stay inside the wet warmth of his woman’s vagina to have his climax. In short, having sex on hormonal birth control—if the woman handles the hormones well—is indistinguishable from, and as carefree as, having sex without any birth control at all, with one exception: the woman doesn’t get pregnant.

But it is this very invisibility that raises the trust issues. Because it can’t be seen, or felt, there’ always that nagging fear that maybe it isn’t there at all, or that it isn’t working as it should. And that can have a big impact on sexuality and on the mutual trust that relationships need.

First, the woman’s perspective. There is no 100% effective birth control except abstinence (or a total hysterectomy). Condoms fail. Diaphragms fail. And yes, the Pill fails. It fails more often if the woman uses it in the wrong way, but even with perfect use it still fails.

On the one hand, this makes hormonal birth control no different from any other method, so if the woman is afraid her pill isn’t working right, she will (or at any rate should) be afraid that the condom may break, or has a microscopic hole in it, or whatever. But somehow it’s different. A condom is there, physically. It seems substantial, and if it breaks, common sense says that she’ll see it break and can take the morning-after pill. With hormonal birth control, she doesn’t have that sense of substantiality. In fact it is even more counter-intuitive, because with the implant, unlike with condoms, there isn’t even a chance that the woman can somehow mess things up. Yet some women still feel more comfortable with a fallible condom than with an invisible, much less fallible hormonal implant.

Take me, for instance. I have been on the Pill for several years. I got a lot of experience taking it (for health issues) before I ever trusted it for birth control. But now my boyfriend and I do use it as our only method of contraception. I am careful taking it; I use the LadyPill reminder on my phone to help me make sure I take it right. I have never been late, much less missed a period. And yet, every month, as I come down to the last active pill or two in the pack, I always have a twinge of nerves in the back of my mind: what if it doesn’t work this time? What will I do? What will my boyfriend do?

In my case, my boyfriend and I have discussed this at length. We do have a plan in place. It isn’t like we haven’t prepared a fallback, so we won’t be taken by surprise. (If you don’t want to know, skip down a few lines. If you really want to know, neither of us ever wants kids, so I will have an abortion.) But even with the plans in place, I still get nervous.

But what about my boyfriend’s perspective? What about the trust there? Whenever we make love, I am there in bed with him, a completely naked woman, with absolutely nothing physical between him and me. Yet he willingly places his penis inside my vagina and lets me do the things to him that he knows will cause him to ejaculate there, with nothing at all to show that I am contracepting except for a pack of birth control pills in my makeup kit in my bathroom next door. He has my word that I’m actually taking the pills (and taking them properly); he has my word that I will have an abortion if the worst happens and I get pregnant. But these are only words, and in the heat of the moment words become secondary. An unscrupulous woman who understands that can certainly trap a man, even if most of us think that that would be stupid and playing with fire. Yes, I could trap him. As intercourse begins, then continues, and I move my hips and whisper sweet dirty nothings and sluttily push him inexorably over the edge and into a moment that cannot be undone (maybe even wrapping my legs around him to make sure he stays put during his ejaculation), how does he KNOW? How can he let himself be brought to this situation in the first place? It’s like he’s signing a blank check, and the only reason he’s doing it is because he’s hot for my body. How does he know, truly, really, that I have made myself sterile for him?

The simple answer is that he does not and cannot. Even if he watched me take the pill every night, how does he know I’m not making myself throw it up once he leaves? I know, it’s extreme, but my point is that what he’s doing takes a massive amount of trust.

In my case, with our relationship, it’s easy to trust; we’ve been together enough years that we both know the score, and he’s confident that I’m not one of the horribly confused (dare I say sick?) women that are out to trap their men. But what about couples whose relationship is still young? How does one develop the trust? Does the Pill increase the trust, or throw a barrier of suspicion between women and men?

I really don’t know, and would like hearing about that from you. This isn’t my first sexual relationship, but it IS the first one in which I have relied only on the Pill for contraception (and once again, two years in and not a sign of an “oops”). As for my boyfriend: he was a virgin before meeting me, and a shy one at that. He wanted to take things slowly. I don’t know if it was naivety on his part, pressure on mine, or just that he is a naturally trusting soul, and neither does he—we have discussed it a lot since then. But we were together for months, with growing emotional closeness coupled with increasingly intimate sexual activity, before the night arrived when he permitted me to take his virginity. By that time he knew I was on the Pill, and I had explained to him how it works and how I take it, and he had occasionally watched me take it. I wanted his first time—and our first time together—to be special, so when the time came we didn’t use condoms, and he came inside me. We picked a night shortly before I was due so he would know in a matter of just a few days that I hadn’t gotten pregnant. It was scary for him nevertheless, but as the months and the pill packs came and went (and no baby came), he relaxed more (as did I) and his trust levels grew (as did mine). In our case the Pill has done nothing but strengthen the trust that a man and woman should have, and at the same time it has allowed spontenaity and incredible intimacy that you just can’t get from condoms.

But what about other couples? Is there this degree of trust? Or is there doubt, suspicion, insistence on pulling out, and the like? In short, is hormonal birth control a blessing or curse for trust in relationships?

What’s your take?


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Most Helpful Guy

  • Honestly it isn't just about trusting the woman for the man. It is "do I trust the pill/ " , the answer was very much NO when I was young to the 2nd part. I could have lost my virginity almost 2 years before I did. The girl asked if I wanted to has sex, since her shirt was off and her tit was in my mouth at the time, it was so so so so so hard to say no. But it was Christmas eve 1987, nothing was open, and I didn't have a condom. I will say that truthfully, I didn't fully trust her either and that was also part of it.
    Later, when I met my ex wife, I made us use 2 forms of birth control for a long time. I used condoms and she used either the pill or, for a while, the sponge. She always thought I was crazy. And when I got to the point where I was ok with it if she became pregnant, then we stopped using stuff. However, my 1st son was conceived while she was on the pill. So I felt justified. Luckily, it was about a week after we decided to wait 1 more year to have kids, about 9 months after we were married. But both of us wanted kids so we were happy. Turns out antibiotics negate "the pill". she was on those for a short time and that is when she got pregnant.

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Most Helpful Girl

  • Of course there is trust between my boyfriend and I in terms of contraception. We talked about what we'd do in case of falling pregnant before even having sex, when we used condoms only a handful of times, but otherwise relied on the withdrawal method for two years.

    I've been on birth control nor for almost two years, which I wouldn't look at as a blessing or curse. I take it on time every day because not only do I not want a child atm, but I also am in no position financially/mentally/emotionally to raise one. So... I take the pill every night at 10pm on the dot out of duty. Not to prove anything to my boyfriend or anything.

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    • just take one of those shots that temporarily stop periods and boom, no babies until you get off the shot. you go in ever three months

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    • I hear there is a counter to the deposhot. Trust me, I wouldn't recommend something with such negative effects lol. Let me find the name, haven't brought it up in months

    • @FreedomByChoice
      a counter... what?

Join the discussion

What Guys Said 27

  • I am 62 and my girlfriend is 58. Pregnancy is not a concern for us and that is a big relief. We have both been tested for STD's and are negative and we are both committed to en exclusive relationship. Of course, wither of us could cheat and expose the other one to the risk of a STD, but relationships inherently require some trust and I know that she is worthy of my trust.

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  • I don't trust any woman about anything (except that she will do whatever she FEELZ will benefit her most *at that particular second*), most especially not about birth control. I've learned the hard way, because apparently I'm at least a little stupid and can't always learn from other men's experiences.

    One more good thing about having a vasectomy, and not telling any bitch about it. She can drop her pills down the sink all she wants, she's not going to get an "Oops!" pregnancy from me. And if she does get knocked up, I know it's not mine and I can show her the door.

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  • Any woman or man who takes hormonal birth control is a complete idiot. You really need to study the negative side effects of these things.

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  • Simple
    I never did any bare backing with a girl I didn't trust 100%.
    But for all those guy who make it a point of male honor to hate condoms it can be difficult, indeed.

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    • I hear that. Condoms are the worst. You wouldn't put a bag over you best friend's head then why do it to your peep.

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    • @DonkeyRick69 In the end, the children are the ones who 'profit' from welfare and child support. There won't be much left for the single mother.
      Do you have a problem with children getting fed , clothed and an home?

    • No not at all.

  • I follow my dad's advice. I always, ALWAYS strap up with a condom, because that is the contraceptive power that *I* as the man wield.

    If I give that up, then ALL the power is out of my hands, and in the power of someone else. The only means to give up that power, if you don't have any issues raising a child with said woman if she ends up pregnant.

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  • If they say they are on the pill, I trust them.
    They would have to be completely psychotic nutcase to pull off something like that.
    I generally have sex with people who don't want children in their life anyway, secondly they are mature individuals with responsibilities who I have no reason to not trust in topics like these.

    I on the other hand absolutely hate condoms.
    They make me stressed and uncomfortable, I actually feel more secure if the woman simply tracks her ovulation instead. (as the only means of contraception)
    Condoms fail all the time, you have to check on and adjust them frequently, it just results in a horribly uncomfortable experience.

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    • Can I applaud this comment! In general most women are not trying to trap guys, the ones who do are few and far between. But, there are nutcases out their (in both genders) so the best thing is to protect your own interests. Choosing partners with similar lifestyles and or goals is a great way to do that. If you don't want kids and your partner doesn't want kids then you know should your method fail that they will react in a way you want.

      As for ovulation tracking dude that is so not reliable by any means. Sperm can stay alive a lot longer then you think. Just because she's not ovulating doesn't mean that the sperm won't stay alive long enough for her too. I know plenty of whoops babies that happened this way. But, everything else I agree with.

    • @coralee "As for ovulation tracking dude that is so not reliable by any means."

      Yes it is, the hormonal ovulation prediction kits are about 99% accurate.
      And in a woman with regular cycle it is safe to have sex during the 1~2 weeks after ovulation, well much safer than using just condom anyway.
      Because having an irregular occurrence of ovulation is much rarer than it is for a typical condom to fail.

      I had a fuck buddy who used ovulation kits as the only means of contraception for years.
      But if you use them frequently as means of contraception it can get expensive.

    • But yeah, I personally can't see myself "not trusting" someone in a matter like this.
      I'd think that if someone has to be wary of something like this, then maybe they are having sex with their partner too early.

  • The pill, when taken as directed, is 99.7% guaranteed to prevent pregnancy. And yet, fully one third of women who surprise their guy with pregnancy news claim to have been taking the pill as directed and that it "must not have worked" that night.

    An "OOPS" pregnancy is the sign of a desperate woman wanting to lock down a wallet. When male birth control is finally legalized (it already exists) the surprise pregnancy rate will drop to zero.

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  • These birth control rants are annoying.

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  • Hormonal birth control is very powerful method but hormones are natural chemicals. Its very important cuz there are plenty of feedback mechanism in the human body both negative and positive to negate their affect, so few people realize that its a powerful thing but if your body adapt to it, its nothing.
    Males are kind of very distrustful of their partners about this sensitive issue but usually when it fails its not their fault.

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  • best to be safe

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  • When it comes to birth control, I take responsibility for myself. I don't care if my partner is on the pill or not, as I always use a condom.

    I just don't trust Hormonal birth control, I know of to many cases where someone was taking it correctly and it failed.

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  • But... can't the saying "I am sterile" be faked as much as the "I am on the pill"? How do we make sure? :/
    Because this is not a topic to be toyed with and not a thing, where failure is an option, that can be corrected. It can't. It's pretty much like a no-turning-back way.

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  • Goodtake. Trust is a must. This is why it's such a big risk to be promiscuous as pregnancy is a natural result of hetrosexual sex and STD's have always been around. At least while having sex in a committed relationship you will be able to deal with pregnancy together and the likelihood of STD's is minimal.

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  • I hear girls want their guys to cum inside them when they are on birth control because it makes the girl happy that the guy trusts her to be on birth control

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    • I hadn't thought about it precisely like that, but it IS nice to have the mutual trust that my boyfriend and I have.

    • I should add that maybe that's what trust really is. We no longer think about it--we just take his cumming inside me for granted since we have both birth control and a backup plan in place.

  • There's a tremendous amount of trust between my girlfriend and I.

    I'm not really sure if "invisible contraception" would really create a trust issue or possibly exacerbate a preexisting problem, that's actually something to think about, thanks for sharing!

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  • I trust the pill. After I got divorced I dated up to 8 different girls, all but 1 of them let me have sex with them bareback. I did not ask if they were on the pill or some other form of birth control, and they did not stop me when I did not put a condom on.

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  • I have one kid, not having anymore i be tellling girls i wear nothing but condoms yeah i was dumb before and thought i was invinciable but i learned that lesson, bith control or not im strapping up

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  • I wouldn't have sex with a girl without a condom if i didn't want to make them pregnant. Trust is not a factor for me considering ovulation and womens biological clock can overpower any form of preexisting trust.

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  • It effects many women's overall health very negatively.

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  • I would have a hard time trusting and not stressing over a surprise baby.

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What Girls Said 13

  • First of all, props to you for writing a great Take and for being a responsible adult when it comes to birth control. I can't tell you how disheartening it is to keep learning that people are being so careless with something so important.

    About the trust issue, guys *should* very much care about how responsible her woman is with the Pill but should also be careful and take responsibility when they don't know. For example, these stupid one-night stands that happen where the woman tells the guy, "Yeah, don't worry I'm protected," and he hears what he wants just to get his dick wet.

    There's more than just pregnancies to be concerned with. Duh. When are people going to learn that birth control and STD prevention is everyone's responsibility?

    If you're in a committed relationship where there is more to trust than just whether or not you're having babies, then it's part of the relationship package. Someone told me once, "If you can't picture yourself having a child with this person, you shouldn't be having sex with them." Obviously that's a pretty sound observation because yes, accidents and irresponsibility happens.

    At the same time, I had a lover once who told me to "show him" my Pill pack (like that makes a difference, but showed him nonetheless). I have always been childfree and can't make it clear enough how I intend to remain that way, even if I had to have an abortion if my contraceptives failed me. But knowing me is the key. I guess he figured the onus was entirely up to me to "show him" my Pill pack instead of satisfying his fears and wearing a condom like a big boy.

    You're right - trust is to be had with sex, there is no doubt. I recently read an article where women are tricking rich guys in to sleeping with them and having their child so they can cash in, thus an increase of vasectomies were found in men in their 20s in ritzy areas of New York state. (The Hamptons, I believe.) Women are also getting pregnant and having abortions before the man even knew what happened, if they ever found out at all. (Ask a childfree guy if they ever got a woman pregnant and they'll always say 'no' and claim they 'just know so'. LOL yeah - that's why I've had friends confide their pregnancies in me, and I sneak them to the abortion clinic where they come home in two hours and act like nothing happened.)

    I think people should do a better job at telling the truth, and knowing who they're with so they don't get duped. :)

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    • It's amazing rich/wealthy guys still fall into that trap. They are the prime targets yet always get got slippin'. Even rich/wealthy women occasionally get caught with the stealthing technique to trap them.

      I agree with you. Especially with the, "If you can't picture yourself having a child with this person, you shouldn't be having sex with them". People really need to take responsibility of their bodies.

  • This is exactly why we need to stop being so lax when teaching boys about the consequences of sex. Many of them still have the old 50's mentality if the woman get's pregnant that it is her problem. It takes two to make a baby and if you don't want one you need to take the percautions to prevent having one. I am on the pill but I still use condoms as well. Mainly for the reason you said as it is something physical and if it rips I know to take the morning after pill as an extra percaution. But the fact of the matter is stuff still goes wrong and both parties need to be aware of that and take every percaution to protect their own interests be they male or female.

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    • teaching boys the consequences of sex? most people know, they are not stupid, they just dont care. Whats important is not messing with people like that, and actually know what you are getting into before you sleep with men who really dont care if you get pregnant or not. The girl who lets this happen doesn't care either, otherwise she wouldn't have been sleeping with these types in the first place.

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    • @FreedomByChoice This post was specifically talking about the trust it takes for men to believe the woman they are with are on birth control. My comment was in relation to that not men who don't care, that is a completely different issue. There seems to be a prevelant fear on the internet by men that they may get "trapped" in a relationship with a woman who lies about being on birth control. If that is a legitamate concern then there are actions they can take to prevent that i. e. using a condom or abstaining from sex with women they don't trust. I talked about what I personally do to protect myself. If you don't want kids there are steps you can take to protect your own interests whether you are male or female.

    • yeah, I know what your point was, but you claim the root cause is teaching men ''consequences of sex'' Like I said, most people know, but they just dont care, as I have gave the examples with both my father, my brothers father and my grandfather and are extremely common. you can't teach someone to ''care for a child'' if they dont want to. instead of relying on deadbeats to actually change the women is partly to blame even for letting them in their life in the first place. As I got older and looked back at how my grandfather left my grandmother with 4 children and looked at my dad and how he went missing for 4 years I finally got it. you can't change these people if they dont want to, and most of the time, they dont.

  • I always used a condom on the pill no matter what. My boyfriend and I have a lot of trust, but that extra protection barrier made it more comfortable, threw the worrying out the door, and made intimacy more enjoyable since we knew we were safe.

    However, I must warn you those pills can be fatal. I took the pill for about 2 years (due to having adenomyosis and endometriosis, irregular periods, etc) and I ended up getting multiple blood clots from it. I was pulled off of it immediately, and cannot ever take hormones again as it could kill me.

    I'm high risk for pulmonary embolism now, having blood clot break and hit my heart or lung.

    I'm on blood thinners and i cannot even take OTC meds risking blood clots. Thanks to those pills it's ruined a lot for me.

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  • Why don't you just use condoms as well if you don't trust her? Birth control and condoms aren't just the woman's job. I've been on birth control since I was 16 and can safetly say I have never been pregnant, nor ever had a scare. And that's purely down to using my birth control correctly and choosing the right one for me.

    This take should be a PSA for wearing a condom. At the end of the day - wear one if you don't trust her. And also wear one if you don't trust birth control. At no point have you suggested this as a method - you've simply bashed women. Jesus. It's not that difficult to not get pregnant.

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  • For me the implant is the best solution for trust issues; it's automatic so there's no risk that it fails because I didn't use it correctly, and my gynecologist gave me a tiny card proving that I have an implant, and that it's still working. Also, it might seem disgusting but I can feel it through my skin, which means I can't pretend that I have an implant while not having any.

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  • Do you or your boyfriend ever thought about getting something permanent done? After 2 kids my ex husband got a vasectomy. Which was great... no worries at all. Until we divorced. I found myself having to think about birth control at the age of 43.

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    • We probably will at some point, but I also use the Pill for things other than birth control and I have always done really well on it and all my side effects are good ones (clearer skin--I like being as pretty as possible for my boyfriend, hehe--clockwork light periods, etc.), so even if I get my tubes tied I plan to stay on it.

  • If you're in a relationship then you should trust each other already. If you can't trust each other then the relationship is deeply damaged and maybe doomed to fail.

    I hope my partner trusts me. He knows I'm forgetsome so sometimes he asks if I still have it under control.
    I know he wants a baby so I don't really think he cares much.

    But yeah a healthy relationship should have trust already

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  • Good luck

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  • i prefer not to have sex

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  • Oh, by far it's a blessing. A million times over, a blessing.

    People will always have irrational fears.

    But hormonal BC is I N C R E D I B L Y effective. It works really, really well, even when not taken correctly, but especially if taken properly. Your level of worry should be commensurate with the actual risk you're taking. And the risk is "not much".

    So it seems to me, the lack of trust may actually be about other things, like maybe hiding an underlying guilt about being sexually active in the first place.

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  • If my boyfriend didn't trust me, I'd find it pretty damn insulting. Especially considering the fact that between the two of us, Im the only one using contraception at all, whereas he isn't doing jack sh*t. It takes two to make a baby; if a man has such a low opinion of his girlfriend that he thinks she'd deliberatley trick him into getting her pregnant then he should wear a f*cking condom, just in case. Problem solved. Likewise, if a woman is worried that the pill might fail on her then she should also ask her boyfriend to wear extra protection anyway. Both parties are responsible for their own bodies. Therfore, it's a MUTUAL issue of trust. The fact that in this day and age women still believe that it's mainly THEIR responsibility for not conceiving a child and that men are merely innocent bystanders is amazing to me.

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  • Interesting Take

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  • Very interesting read. I was on the pill for 6 years and accidentally got pregnant while taking it.

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