The Circumcision Decision

I can not thank Lauren, with The Whole Network, enough for doing this very informative and respectful post on circumcision for our BWF readers. It truly is a phenomenal article on such a heated topic. ~Mrs. BWF

During my first pregnancy, I was overwhelmed with joy when I found out that there was a little boy in my belly. Like many ‘mamas-to-be’, I instantly fell in love and spent my days (and nights) dreaming about him. As the months passed by, I began to plan for his arrival: washing and hanging all of his tiny clothes, picking out the softest blankets I could find, figuring out what breast pump would be best. I wanted to be prepared for every little detail. When I began to make plans for the birth itself, I thought about what would happen on the day of his birth, and circumcision crossed my mind.

At the time, I did not think there was even a choice about circumcision. Every male I knew- my husband, dad, brothers, friends – were all circumcised. The thought of a penis with a foreskin wasn’t appealing to me (even though I never saw one in real life), and I had always heard of women saying it was “dirty” or “gross”. I also advocated the benefits of circumcision (even though I never truly looked at the research articles.)

My heart sank in my chest, because I didn’t want to put my new found love through any pain whatsoever. However, after talking to various family members and my OB/GYN, it seemed that circumcision was the best option for my son and his future. “It’s cleaner” and “he’ll have fewer problems” were the most common responses. I had yet to hear a single response that was in favor of not circumcising.

I didn’t think about it much after that, until about 2 months before his due date. By that time, my love for him had grown immensely, and the thought of any painful procedure made my head spin. So one day, I decided to sit down and search on Google to see what came up about circumcision. I was very surprised when the vast majority of the information was against it! My curiosity was perked, and I found myself on YouTube, watching a video of the procedure. After all, my baby boy would have to go through it- so I should see it, right?

My jaw dropped to the floor when I saw the video. I couldn’t stop crying.

From that day forward, I poured everything I could into researching this topic. I wanted to know the truth. Using various sites and forums, I started to network with as many people as I could. To my surprise, I found that there were thousands of parents who had healthy boys who were not circumcised. This intrigued me, because I had always been told that foreskins would cause many problems in boys/men. I needed to know more.

As I dug further into the topic, I found out that the majority of the males in the world are not circumcised. In fact, the United States is the only country to perform this procedure routinely for non-religious purposes. Another interesting fact is there is not a single medical organization in the world who recommends circumcision- not even the American Academy of Pediatrics!

So why was I under the impression that circumcision was best? Why do parents continue to choose it? Why do some doctors advise us to do so? I decided to create a list of the apparent benefits and researched them one by one. I had heard various reasons, such as better hygiene, less chance for UTIs, less chance for HIV/STDs, needing to look like father/brother(s), less chance of penile cancer/HPV, better to be done as an infant and needing to fit in with his peers. Here’s what I found.

Better Hygiene

It’s been said that much more care is needed when boys have a foreskin. That more cleaning time is required, because it is dirty and the foreskin needs to be retracted and cleaned from an early age. However, there is nothing unclean about a foreskin, especially in infancy. In fact, both boys and girls have foreskins, which serve the same purposes. The male foreskin is actually fused to the head (glans) of the penis in infancy and through much of childhood (much like a fingernail is fused to a finger.) This is the body’s way of protecting the genitals against urine and feces. Because it is fused shut, bacteria and other foreign particles cannot invade. There’s no need to retract the foreskin to clean under it. You simply wipe the outside only, like cleaning a finger- it’s easy!

The foreskin will naturally start to separate at an average of age 10. Once he can retract it on his own, he can just simply rinse with warm water in the shower. It’s just as easy as teaching a girl how to bathe and there’s nothing difficult about it.

Information over the internet can only go so far, so I wanted to personally network with people that had intact sons (or were intact themselves). I asked all about hygiene and care, and I never ran into a person or parent that had any issues with it. The parents all agreed that it was easy to care for an intact boy and all of the intact men said it was just a simple rinse in the shower- no extra time or effort. There’s even a video on YouTube that shows how simple it is! You can also listen to a pediatrician on intact care vs. circumcision care.

Less Chance of UTIs

Urinary tract infections are very rare in boys. But the prevalence of UTI in girls up to 2 years is more than twice the prevalence in boys of the same age. The rate in girls up to one year of age is 6.5%, while it is 3.3% in boys. From age one to two, it is 8.1% in girls and only 1.9% in boys. This being said, we can easily treat urinary tract infections in girls with a simple antibiotic, without the need to perform any surgery. In the rare case that a boy might get a UTI, an antibiotic would solve the problem.

There have been some claims of an increased risk of UTI during the first year of life for boys who are not circumcised. According to Psychology Today, “This claim is based on one study that looked at charts of babies born in one hospital (Wiswell 1985). The study had many problems, including that it didn’t accurately count whether or not the babies were circumcised, whether they were premature and thus more susceptible to infection in general, whether they were breastfed (breastfeeding protects against UTI), and if their foreskins had been forcibly retracted (which can introduce harmful bacteria and cause UTI) (Pisacane 1990). There have been many studies since which show either no decrease in UTI with circumcision, or else an increase in UTI from circumcision. Thus circumcision is not recommended to prevent UTI (Thompson 1990).”

Less Chance of HIV/STDs

A few select studies show a prevalence of HIV transmission in uncircumcised men, but real world empirical data shows that circumcision hasn’t stopped HIV in countries where there is already a prevalence of the practice of circumcision. Take the United States for example: we are a country with a very high rate of circumcision (70% of the current male population, compared to 10-15% worldwide), yet we have one of the highest rates of children/adults living with HIV & AIDS out of the post-industrial nations.

Greg Millett of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even said the following: “overall, we found no association between circumcision status and HIV infection status” when he presented his findings to the CDC’s National HIV Prevention Conference.

While circumcision is very common in the United States, it is uncommon in Europe. This would lead one to assume that HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases would be much higher in Europe, where circumcision is rare. However, this publication clearly shows that HIV and sexually transmitted diseases are much higher in the United States:

“The percentage of the United States’ adult population that has been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS is six times greater than in Germany, three times greater than in the Netherlands, and one-and-a-half times greater than in France.(Fig. 5)[5]”

“…data from the Netherlands found that rates of reported incidence [of sexually transmitted diseases] are considerably higher in the United States.[6,7] Further, comparisons of prevalence (the proportion of a given population which is infected) find that the Chlamydia prevalence among young adults in the United States is twice that among young adults in the Netherlands.[8,9]*”

Less Chance of Penile Cancer/HPV

Penile cancer is among the diseases circumcision claims to prevent. However, it is important to remember that penile cancer is incredibly rare. Did you know that more men are diagnosed and more deaths occur from male breast cancer than penile cancer? The chance of dying from penile cancer is so low that it is not even presented separately by – it is lumped in with all male genital cancers (including testicular cancer and the much more common prostate cancer) at a total of 310 estimated deaths in 2010. Compare this to the annual circumcision death rate of approximately 117 neonates (first month of life). That’s more than SIDS (115 annually) and more than suffocation (44) and auto accidents (8) combined. (via Saving Babies)

The Journal of Infectious Diseases from the Oxford Journals did a study on the baseline prevalence of penile, scrotal, and perineal/perianal human papillomavirus (HPV) in heterosexual men on 5 continents. They found that “Neither condom usage nor circumcision was associated with HPV DNA prevalence.”

One of the most compelling items I found on the subject of penile and cervical cancer was a letter written from the American Cancer Society to the American Academy of Pediatrics:

“As representatives of the American Cancer Society, we would like to
discourage the American Academy of Pediatrics from promoting routine
circumcision as preventative measure for penile or cervical cancer.
The American Cancer Society does not consider routine circumcision
to be a valid or effective measure to prevent such cancers.

Research suggesting a pattern in the circumcision status of partners
of women with cervical cancer is methodologically flawed, outdated and
has not been taken seriously in the medical community for decades.

Likewise, research claiming a relationship between circumcision and
penile cancer is inconclusive. Penile cancer is an extremely rare
condition, effecting one in 200,000 men in the United States. Penile
cancer rates in countries which do not practice circumcision are lower
than those found in the United States. Fatalities caused by
circumcision accidents may approximate the mortality rate from penile

Portraying routine circumcision as an effective means of prevention
distracts the public from the task of avoiding the behaviors proven to
contribute to penile and cervical cancer: especially cigarette smoking
and unprotected sexual relations with multiple partners. Perpetuating
the mistaken belief that circumcision prevents cancer is inappropriate.”

Better to be Done as an Infant

It has often been said that circumcision is better to be performed on an infant for various reasons, but it is important to look at the subject logically. If a man is left intact, he can always choose to be circumcised later. However, once a circumcision is performed, it cannot be undone. There are many cases of men who are unhappy with their circumcision, and wish that they had the choice.

Even if he opted for circumcision later, not only would he have the choice, but he would also get adequate pain medication for the surgery and understand what is happening to his body. A large majority of routine infant circumcisions are not performed with any anesthetic. In fact, up to 96 percent of the babies in the United States and Canada receive no anesthesia when they are circumcised, according to a report from the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

This has many parents (and medical professionals) concerned about the pain associated with circumcision, but is a local anesthetic even enough?

In this research study, 11 male newborns were circumcised with a local dorsal penile nerve block, and 13 controls were circumcised without anesthetic. When the adrenal cortisol levels were compared, response to surgery was not significantly reduced by the administration of lidocaine. Some doctors use EMLA cream as an anesthetic. Not only is EMLA cream less effective than a lidocaine injection, but the manufacturer’s insert warns against its use on infants and on the genitals of children.

The truth of the matter is, infants cannot get the adequate pain treatment, including post-op pain medication, like an adult would. They don’t understand what is happening to their bodies, and most of all, they don’t have a choice.

Needing to Look Like Father/Brothers

This was a very important issue for me. My husband is circumcised, and so is his oldest son. I was worried that there would be issues with the new baby being different than his dad and brother. I didn’t want him to feel different or alone.

I found out that a distant family member was kept intact, even though his older brother and dad were circumcised. Although it seemed like it would be an awkward conversation, I just had to have my husband ask him about it. So he did. It turned out that he really didn’t care and it was never a big deal.

I connected with other men who grew up intact with circumcised dads, and they laughed saying, “I don’t even remember what my dad’s penis looked like…. and quite frankly, I wouldn’t want to remember!”

It all made sense even though I never thought of it that way. To my surprise, it just wasn’t an issue for these men. There were even online groups dedicated to keeping future sons intact, and I spoke with hundreds of parents who had made this same decision. Many of them now had grown children, and were happy to share their experience with me. I asked many questions, and it came down to this: as parents, we can only do what we think is best for our children. But, we also need to be able to grow and learn, so we can always make the best decisions possible. Sometimes, we learn that a past decision wasn’t necessarily the best, and that is OK. We adapt and move on, and our children will understand that. “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” – Maya Angelou

Needing to Fit in with His Peers

“Getting made fun of in the locker room” was a very common response for potential issues for boys who were not circumcised. This was also an important issue for me, much like the issue for my son to look like his father and brother. While this may have been an issue for men in previous generations, it is just not the same for boys growing up today.

In 2010, a slide presented by a CDC researcher at the International Aids Conference in Vienna claimed that circumcision rates in the US had dropped to 32.5% in 2009. While this number was not actually endorsed by the CDC, their 2010 reports still show circumcision rates have dropped over the years (54.7% in 2010). No matter which number you choose to use, the results are the same: circumcision rates are falling in the United States, and continue to do so. With at least half of American parents saying no to circumcision, intact boys will no longer be in the minority. Boys growing up in today’s generation will have the same amount of peers who are intact vs. circumcised.

Some regions in the US have a higher percentage of intact males, while other regions have a lower percentage, so it will vary depending on your location. However, it is important to remember that no matter what, children are going to be different than each other in a variety of ways. Some will be considered too smart, not smart enough, too fat, too thin, too tall, too short… the list goes on and on. The main thing is to be sure to teach our children to understand that they are unique and that they should love themselves for who they are. After all, they are special in their own ways, and that will never change.


Fast forward to now, and my son is happy, healthy and has never had a single problem whatsoever with being intact. As I’ve continued to research the subject, I’ve learned so much more than I could have imagined, such as the many important functions of the foreskin and how specialized it is. It is truly so much more than a “flap of skin”.

I’ve been so moved by the plethora of information I have discovered, that I even founded a grassroots non-profit organization called The WHOLE Network. I wanted to be able to reach other parents who were in the same shoes as I, and make sure they had a place for accurate information and support. As more and more parents seek out information, we continue to grow and help others. We have locations in each US state, as well as various countries worldwide. If anyone ever has any questions or needs information, we would love to help them and get them the accurate information they need.

We know that parents want what is best for their children. We understand that many moms and dads are simply trusting in the advice of their doctors or family. We aren’t here to condemn parents, or to make them feel guilty for past decisions. We are here to empower parents with information, and help inform them so that they can make educated decisions for the ones that they love most.


  • Melanie

    Well done. Our professor from genitourinary dx showed pics of circumcised vs uncircumcised and you really couldn’t tell the difference. Most of the women didn’t know whether their male partner was or wasn’t. He did a great job dispelling the myth about being made fun of. Wish I had known about it before I had my son or I’d have said no!

  • Amber Phillips

    I’m having my first son in the spring and this article just reconfirms my decision to leave him intact. As a nurse, I had to witness this procedure while in training, and that experience left a profound impact on me. I really love the point about the procedure being done without proper medication, which in the case that I saw was true. Only a pacifier dipped in sugar water was offered to the baby. If my son so chooses to have this done later in life, I will feel better as mom knowing it wasn’t painful and that it was a choice he made about his body.

  • Kelly

    Great post, thank you. I regret more than anything the decision to circumcise my first son. He wouldn’t stop bleeding and needed stitches in his penis, it was horrible. I didn’t want to do it but my husband insisted and I know many boys are cut for this same reason. It’s difficult to let our partners know we love them the way they are but we don’t want to hurt our sons in the same way. My husband eventually came around with our second son and we left him and boy #3 intact.

    If you’re interested, you can read my story here:

  • julia

    Excellent non inflammatory post. I really hope before the inevitable freaking out posts flow in that they actually read this! I was on the fence with whether to snip my first bout but once my OB said its strictly cosmetic. I decided of course not to. I would definitely not do this to a daughter, so why my sons? Both my boys are in tact and I’ve never encountered any problems.

  • Crea

    This is a human rights issue. We in America shiver and shriek at the thought of how barbaric female circumcision is, yet we endorse it for our infant boys. Will someone tell me how it different? People need to have the courage to do what is in line with the rights of our children even when it seems to be in line with the status quo.
    “The truth of the matter is, infants cannot get the adequate pain treatment, including post-op pain medication, like an adult would. They don’t understand what is happening to their bodies, and most of all, they don’t have a choice.”
    Well written and much appreciated post!
    In Gratitude,
    Sister of an in-tact man and Mother of two young in-tact boys.

  • kelly

    what an excellent and thorough post! i will be sure to refer any moms to be to this article…i love the calm cool and collected writing, very non inflammatory as the last commenter said.

  • Jenny

    I am so, so sad that I let my first son be circumcised. I didn’t know anything about it, was a young new mom and listened to everyone else. It healed up fine for him and he never seemed to have any problems and is a teenager now…but when his baby brother was born UC, about 8 years after him, I left the baby intact. The BEST decision I ever made! My un-circ’d son has never had any problems. I am so happy that he is whole! I recently (for the first time ever) saw a circumcision being performed, via YouTube and I almost threw up. It was SOOOO upsetting. I could barely force myself to look at the screen. I cannot believe I let that be done to my first son and I will always regret it.

  • Aj

    Thank you for such a well written, unbiased article! You did a great job of presenting the the facts in an easy to follow way. As a mother of 2 little girls this is not something I have had to make a decision on but since I plan to have more children I have a 50/50 chance of having a baby boy so I want to be educated to make the best possible decision. This article will also be great information for me to share with my doula clients and childbirth education students. Well done!

  • tm

    Just my point, I’ve known many boys and men with problems b/c they weren’t circed and we moms think of the now and them as grown men…not so much as senior citezens. When our boys grow to men, then to seniors ….. they often are unable to keep themselves clean. I never thought of this point until a friend in that particular health industry described how gravity works harder on them, and they can’t keep it clean…her stories of cleaning them made one more point for it in our experience. Many people give there 2 month old a vaccine, not only one but many now a days…. that is painful too. This is respectfully written, we all make our own descisions but I needed to point this out….

    • Tora Spigner RN MSN

      Some men have problems with their penis as adults, as some women have problems with their genitals as adults. We don’t condone cutting off parts of women unless there is something so wrong that the cure is removing tissue that is gangrenous, cancerous or so infected no antibiotic can fix it. The same consideration should be made for men. I know several intact men who have had no problems with their foreskin and enjoy a normal, natural sex life with all their parts. That is why my brother, father and son have all the parts nature gave them and I encourage my patients and doula clients to leave their sons intact. If a man is unable to keep himself clean, then his caregiver must know the proper way to keep him clean. If a woman is unable to care for herself, her caregiver must know how to keep her clean.
      Also, circumcision is way more painful than any vaccine and has life-long consequences for the man. Many men are unhappy with their circumcision, they have much less sensitivity because the glans is supposed to be an inner organ. The foreskin protects the glans the way the eyelids protect the eye.

    • Kelley Mason

      It is another myth that if they don’t get circed now they will have problems and need to be circed as an adult. If we are to think that the foreskin is that problematic then we must believe that all boys are born with a design flaw that ‘man’ must fix. If we are to think that way then why don’t we also remove the appendix, tonsils, wisdom teeth etc. since they may also cause problems in the future?

      The actual number of men who need to be circed as adults is very low. You may see it more often here in America because so many Dr’s are unfamiliar and uneducated about the care of the intact penis and will do things like manual retraction and trying to clean under it which can lead to problems in the future. Also, here we are quick to recommend circ for simple issues, infections etc that can be treated with basic abx. Dr’s here do that because they don’t know any better. They need educating like everyone else!! This article explains why we may be seeing an increase in infections now as opposed to other times and in other areas
      In fact, in countries where remaining intact is the norm, where people KNOW to leave the foreskin alone, the % of men needing to be circed as adults is extremely low. Dr George Denniston reports “In foreskin-friendly nations in Europe like Finland, the risk of having a circumcision at birth is zero and the rate of needing them for medical reasons is one in 16,667. Very rare.” (about 2/3 of the way down the page) And if you think about it . . . if the foreskin is that problematic, so problematic that all these intact men (the vast majority of men in the world) will need to be circed as adults . . . then you would see an epidemic of adult circumcision . . . and that just isn’t happening.

      I absolutely make decisions I feel are in the best interest of my children, and many of those decisions are controversial. But I also believe in ‘first do no harm’. I am not going to put my child through a surgery to alter a body part, without their consent “just in case” especially when the facts are just not there to support that decision.

      Kelley (mom to 5 intact boys and 1 intact girl ;0)

    • Lexie

      What’s the difference between retracting the foreskin of an old man to wash the glans and sponging off a vulva, making sure to get around the many folds and contours? I’d rather retract some foreskin, personally.

      Cleaning genitals aside, I grew up in the Caribbean where the majority of people well into their 80s don’t need any help with hygiene. America is probably the sickest developed nation in the world. Instead of griping over washing people’s genitals, we should be focused on how to keep people healthy for longer. Perhaps we should have routine chelation for middle aged people to rid them of heavy metals which are most likely the major cause of them becoming incapable of taking care of themselves as senior citizens. Then your friend won’t have to worry about washing genitals.

  • Pilar

    THANK YOU! This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me… I’m expecting my first baby in 7 weeks and we’re not finding out the sex. My husband is circumcised but I want my baby to remain intact. I know my husband doesn’t share my views, mostly for emotional reasons, and I have been hesitant to approach the subject without concrete scientific evidence against circumcision (hubby’s a scientist and only listens to research). With this one post I have all the information I need to help him become more aware of the issues surrounding circumcision, and to help him change his mind in a logical and non-emotional way. Thanks again!!!

    • Kimberly

      We have a baby boy due in 11 weeks and my husband and I have the opposite view as well. I’ll be emailing him this article as a gateway to the circumcision discussion. Though my husband and I can both get pretty hot-headed about things we strongly believe in, so hopefully this conversation goes smoothly. Good luck to you!

      Lauren — this is an amazing post. I have always been fearful of having a boy for this exact reason…I have been lucky to have girls first where I didn’t have to make this decision…and as soon as we found out we were having a baby boy this time around, I got instantly nervous and it still touches a little nerve in me. We have 11 weeks left in this pregnancy (not enough if you ask me!) and the closer we get to his due date, the more anxious I feel about the whole thing. *sigh* It’s just so stressful for me. Hopefully my husband and I can come to an agreement where we are both comfortable.

    • Virginia Buhr

      When my son-in-law thought he wanted to have his son circumcised and my daughter did not, she made him watch a video of the procedure. She told him that she would not do it, and that if he wanted it done, he would have to make the arrangements and do it himself. (My grandson was born at home.) After viewing the procedure, Dad changed his mind very quickly. He has since been a proponent for remaining intact, and he still puts up with a lot of flack from his parents about the subject. I’m very proud of him and his willingness to become informed about the subject and stick to THEIR decision to not circumcise.

    • Lexie

      Hey, Pilar. You and your husband may benefit from watching this video. I hope he becomes enlightened. What worked for my husband was finding out that circumcision only became the norm to stop boys and men from masturbating. Previously, he had thought there were actually good reasons for it, that it at least started because of someone’s good intentions. Realizing what it was really all about stopped the fights we were having over it. We never did have a son, but I wanted him on board in the event that we were ever blessed with one.

  • Kathryn

    Great, informative article! I felt like the decision to circumcise my son was taken out of my hands by the man who was my husband at the time. I could literally hear my newborn son screaming all the way down from the nursery where they had done this. Many years later, when I became pregnant with my second child, I decided that if this baby was another boy, I would not do this to him, as it turns out, I had a girl this time, and didn’t have to worry…..Thank you so much for putting this article out there for all to read who are undecided about circumcision for their baby boys….

  • Kate

    Bravo! Thank you so much Lauren for writing this and thank you especially to Mrs. BWF for posting this on your blog! I am so grateful for you both!

  • Anna

    Excellent article! I have two sons, both intact, and I could not agree more with everything said here. I remember when I first learned about circumcision, when I was pregnant with my daughter (before we knew she was a girl), and I assumed that circ was just what was done with boys. Then I researched it, and was absolutely appalled by what I found. I knew I could never do that to any child of mine. Of course, I had a girl that time, but even if she had been a boy, she would have stayed whole. A year after she was born, I got married, and years down the line, we had a couple of sons. Circ’ing them was NOT a consideration by then. My husband is intact, and finds circumcision to be very barbaric and cruel, and of course, I’d already done a lot of research on it during my first pregnancy, and come out against it, so our boys right to bodily integrity was always there right from the moment of their conception. They are perfect just as they were born, NO alteration necessary!

  • Sarah

    It’s refreshing to have this topic discussed without the usual hysteria and finger pointing/blame going on. Its messages like this that actually accomplish something. Information without judgment. Well done.

  • Charlee

    Thank you so much for posting. I went down almost the exact same path as you, all of my family members are circumcised and I was going to do it until I watched a video and could not bring myself to do it. Since I haven’t, I have had tons of misinformed family members treat me like not circumcising my son was a form of child abuse. All the literature I have read and every doctor has told me that I made the best decision, but my family continues to be uninformed. I think I will send them this link so thank you for posting.

  • Tora

    Wonderful article, covers a lot of information in a loving way. Thank you. As a labor and delivery nurse, I always encourage my patients to leave their sons intact and as a doula, I will not accept a client who plans to circumcise. The man who your child will become will thank you for leaving him as nature made him. The reason to circumcise is the man’s alone, if he wants it done when he is an adult, he has that option. Since only 1% of men opt to be circumcised as adults, that means he can get adequate anesthesia and analgesia. His Body, His Decision.

  • Audrey B

    Thank you for sharing this. I can relate so much, having thought uncut was yucky in my younger years. Now I can’t even begin to fathom thinking that way and it makes my jaw drop how utterly powerful cultural blinders can be. Thank you Lauren and The WHOLE Network!!

  • Andrea von Schoening

    I have one intact son who is now 17 years old. The care of his penis has never been a problem, although a doctor did retract his foreskin when he was around 3 or 4 years old without discussing it or anything – just did it. 🙁 That is one thing that I would say you have to watch for – many doctors have no idea how to care for an intact penis and it would be best to be proactive in telling them to leave it alone! (Hopefully this will change!)

    I have also heard that the one (apparently) study that showed that circumcision reduced HIV transmission rates was seriously flawed! Apparently they measured results for the first 6 months, and clearly the men who were freshly circumcised would likely be having somewhat less sex since their penis was wounded (!) and that fact alone could more than account for the reduced rate of HIV transmission. (I never could figure out how being circumcised would reduce HIV transmission!) It’s no longer wise to trust science blindly, since corruption has managed to sneak in to that field too.

    I have much faith in Nature and I trust that if there is a body part there, it most likely has a function and a reason for being there. Even if science has not figured out the reason/function YET, doesn’t mean that they do not exist … and eventually science might get there … today there is much knowlege about the various functions and reasons for foreskins and we find that they are an amazing organ!

    • Esther Kraig

      “It’s no longer wise to trust Science blindly”
      HAD to comment, here. It’s NEVER been wise to trust Science blindly! Science is about NOT trusting things blindly. If a Scientist tells you that X is true, the FIRST thing you do is say “and how did you reach that conclusion?”. Then you repeat the experiment (when possible) and try to replicate the results. You research EVERYTHING about it and come up with good counterarguments. If the counterarguments can be refuted logically (and that means with REAL DATA, obviously), then you know that X is likely to be true.
      But you NEVER stop looking for the counterexample that can refute X completely. That’s why you can never prove a Scientific Theory. It only takes ONE piece of evidence to disprove a Theory, no matter HOW long we’ve clung to it as “truth”.
      After all, everyone KNEW that light traveled instantaneously until Einstein (and others) came along and showed us a new theory which works WAY better. (E=mc squared would be meaningless unless c had an actual VALUE: c = the speed of light.)
      But yeah – AWESOME post!

  • road2vba2c

    Thank you for posting this. It’s very well-written. I clicked on the youtube video. I think I’m going to be sick. So many inaccuracies in what the doctor was saying, so many horrible things he said, and to hear that poor baby and mother cry. It was heartbreaking.

  • Courtney R

    In Australia the rates have dropped from 70% in the 1960’s to 12% in 2002. I too was in this situation and after a mammoth session of researching, I opted against it. My boy is intact at 18 months and we have had no problems. There are bearly any doctors in my area that would even perform the procedure. I would have to travel 2 hours to see a qualified doctor. It is a very taboo subject for doctors in Australia and now only plastic surgeons are trained to circumcise, where as 20 years ago all doctors were trained to do it.

    Great article, makes me feel great for my decision not to circumcise.

  • Mychel

    Very well written. It is very hard to find anything in the circ. debate that is not hostile and I appreciate that, as a mother of 3 circumcised boys. My oldest 2, there was no thought to it, it’s simply what you do in my neck of the woods. I have grown alot since then and with my 3rd child, I tried to consider options but was caught up in trying to have a VBAC… ultimately family made the decision to have him circ’ed and I cried the whole time. However, there will not be another one in my house that has to go through this. I am not a horrible parent for having it done, I thought I was doing what was best at the time, as many parents do. Pain medication was never even discussed with any of my 3… it is easy to see where many parents are misguided, in many areas. It takes people walking their journey to build their beliefs and values, to question right and wrong. Some make it sooner than others…

  • Conate

    “Even if science has not figured out the reason/function YET”

    The functions of the foreskin are well known and it’s nothing new : protection (the exact same way your eyelids protect your eyes) and sexual pleasure with its 20,000 nerve endings.

    CIrcumcision was introduced in the US to decrease sexual pleasure in the 1870s thinking it would stop masturbation :

    “A remedy for masturbation which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision, especially when there is any degree of phimosis. The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering anaesthetic, as the pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment.”

    Circumcision has nothing to do with hygiene. It has always been a cure in search of a disease, always the most feared disease of the day : penile cancer, syphilis, cervical cancer, hygiene etc.
    The current lemming-like rush to circumcise against AIDS comes as no surprise

  • Mommy of 3 boys

    This article couldn’t have come at a more perfect time… I’m 27 weeks along, expecting my 3rd son, and he will be the first to not be circumcised. I was just discussing this with my midwife today, and she asked me what my plans were in regards to circumscision. I almost started crying, because I still have such enormous guilt from letting my first sons be cut. When I had my oldest, I didn’t even question the practice, I just thought it was what you do! So my husband stayed with him and they brought him back sound asleep, and he slept for 8 hours straight! They said it was a “coping” mechanism from the pain to sleep so much. I felt awful! He wouldnt wake up to nurse, I had to drip milk into his mouth drip by drip while he slept all day!

    So when my second son was born, I insisted I would go in the room
    With him, to make sure he was ok. They all were nervous when they saw I meant to stay, because they knew it would be hard for me. Every time I think back to how they basically tied him down at the wrists and ankles, giving him nothing but a tiny shot for the pain, while his back arched in pain and he shivered from cold- at Four days old- I want to hide under a rock for not making them stop and run out of the room with my precious baby- in tact – the way God made him. Instead, I was frozen in shock, telling myself not to question the doctors, that he would be fine just like his brother. But he actually gets infections under the skin that is pushed back sometimes and it causes him to be in pain- he is 2, now.

    So today, talking to my midwife, it was pretty clear what my plans are for my next son- to leave him intact. Under no other circumstance as a mother would I willingly allow my children to be in pain, and I’m not going to do that ever again. I will have to explain to my first two sons eventually why they are different from their baby brother, but I think they will understand, and I hope they will forgive me, because I’ve always regretted that choice.

  • Kristen

    that is a horrible video! we choose to circumcise both our boys. I was there for both of them and they were done with a “bell” a plastic cup and neither of my boys cried at all! i would never let any dr do it like shown in that video. OMG if that baby is screaming then he must have felt it 🙁 if that is what i thought it would be i never would have done it EVER!! to each their own it is your baby and you must make the best decision for your baby.

    • Lisa

      The bell method basically cuts off circulation to the foreskin until it dies and falls off. Try tightly tying a string around your finger and see how long you can keep it on there before you can’t stand the pain anymore. Your sons may not have felt pain during the application but I promise you they felt it while their foreskin was slowly dying.

  • mamma3

    I’m from the UK, we don’t routinely practice circumcision unless its for religious or medical reasons. I have never once heard of someone here being circumcised ‘just for the sake of it’.

    My husband is circumcised though, (the first penis I had seen this way – was a bit of a shock at first to be honest!) And the reason he is, is because a stupid health care proffesional who decided that at age 3 she would retract his foreskin, and damaged it so much that it was severely swollen and permanently damaged, and the only option was to cut. He can’t remember any pain, but he can remember leaving the hospital and being upset because he ‘wanted his skin back’.

    Now he really isn’t bothered that this happened, he’s happy the way he is. But what if he wasn’t? He would have been left unhappy because someone decided they knew better. Please don’t let your doctors and other proffesionals retract the skin at such a young age. Like the post said, there is no need, and in some cases it can do more damage than its worth.

    • Esther Kraig

      And THAT, my friend, is PRECISELY the point. If I don’t circ my son and he’s unhappy, he can grumble a bit and get things “fixed”. If I have the spare cash, maybe I’ll even pay for it, just to be nice! But if I circ my son and he’s unhappy, what then? Even foreskin restoration only gives him a pale shadow of what was lost! There IS no going back!
      And OMG, your poor husband! I hope that evil person was fired! He probably doesn’t remember the pain because he blocked it out. YIKES!

  • Neil

    I noticed a lot of mothers posting on this site, so I wanted to put my opinion up as a single male: I wish I was never circumcised after doing research, and I hate the fact I can never reverse it. I wish parents were more informed, my folks just thought it was what they had to do. So please, do the research, understand, and perhaps you’ll leave your kids intact.

  • Peter Freeman

    I’m male, from the UK and married to an American. When our son was born and the nurse asked about circumcision I was stunned. I couldn’t believe they would ask such a question. I was so upset I threatened anyone who would mutilate my child, and yes, those were the words I used. Our second son was born and I was equally annoyed by the whole suggestion. It seemed that the hospital assumed that the child would be circumcised and it was up to us to say no. When it should be the other way around. Whoever heard of any medical procedure being done in such an automatic way.
    As for the question of cleanliness, may I point out to the mothers here that little boys would far rather wash down there than behind their ears. So don’t be at all worried about keeping it clean.

  • Kari

    Perfectly summed up! I myself researched and researched. We had our first, but it turned out to be a girl. We had to talk about circumcision because we weren’t finding out the gender.
    I left it up to my husband, though he knew I was not in favor of it. He thought he would definitely want it done “just like him and every other boy.” I asked him to look up 4 sources. Two websites for it and two against it. What he felt after the research was the complete opposite. He watched the video and he couldn’t bear to go through it with his baby.
    I understand that circumcision was the norm (and still is to some hospitals and pediatricians), but so was not using an infant car seat 30 years ago. As we find new information, we need to think critically and decide what is best for our kids and our families.
    Thank you for writing this piece!

  • Rachel

    When I brought up the fact that we wouldn’t circumcise to my MIL she stated that I must have never worked with the elderly (which I haven’t). She says that older men who are uncircumcised have trouble cleaning themselves because of their age & many of the health care workers aren’t very familiar with an uncircumcised penis & it’s care, so many end up with UTIs in the nursing home. Just wondering if there is information on this? I have seen the information for younger boys & the UTIs but nothing about the elderly. (although it won’t alter my decision I still want to have all the information available to me)

    • Olivia

      I have worked with the elderly as a Certified Nursing Asssistant and have worked with both intact and circumcised men. Basically, once they are needing the assistance of a nursing home, it doesn’t matter whether they are circumcised or not, they ALL need help getting cleaned up. Perhaps it’s a gender thing, but I found that mostly it was the women who atleaat attempted to keep themselves clean, whereas men were just more lazy about it. As far as UTI’s go, it was always the women who got them and not the men, whether circumcised or not. Not saying that it hadn’t or couldn’t ever happen, but anatomically, women have much shorter ureters and therefore it is easier for bacteria to reach the bladder and cause an infection. Just my .02 as someone who took care of elderly circumcised men for a number of years.

      Also, I am expecting a little boy in just a few weeks and am looking forward to having an intact son! I just can’t imagine allowing a perfectly formed innocent new baby to go through this kind of painful procedure that’s not even medically necessary! It doesn’t hurt that we are planning a homebirth as well and no one will be coming to take him away to be circumcised before we leave the hospital. 🙂

  • Shawnah

    People snicker behind my back since I’ve had a son and kept him intact. The funny thing is I feel sorry they aren’t informed. This is the best piece I’ve read to date. Thanks for sharing!

  • Mark Lyndon

    It’s worth remembering that no-one except for Jewish people and Muslims would even be having this discussion if it weren’t for the fact that 19th century doctors thought that :
    a) masturbation caused various physical and mental problems (including epilepsy, convulsions, paralysis, tuberculosis etc), and
    b) circumcision stopped masturbation.

    Both of those sound ridiculous today I know, but how that’s how they thought back then, and that’s how non-religious circumcision got started. If you don’t believe me, then google this: “A Short History of Circumcision in North America In the Physicians’ Own Words”. Heck, they even passed laws against “self-pollution” as it was called.

    Over a hundred years later, circumcised men keep looking for new ways to defend the practicem because hey, no-one wants to think that their configuration down there is anything other than optimal.

    Fortunately, the practice is dying out. The USA and Israel are now the only two countries in the world where more than half of baby boys are circumcised.

    Drops in male circumcision since 1950:
    USA: from 90% to 55%
    Canada: from 48% to 17%
    UK: from 35% to about 5% (about 1-2% among non-Muslims)
    Australia: 90% to 12.4% (“routine” circumcision has recently been *banned* in public hospitals in all states)
    New Zealand: 95% to below 3% (mostly Samoans and Tongans)
    South America and Europe: never above 5%

  • Dan Bollinger

    Parents considering infant circumcision should REALLY check out Circumcision Decision-Maker. It takes you through your reasons for wanting circumcision one at a time and then gives you some expert opinion. It also has information on penis anatomy, how the foreskin develops, circumcision, and care of the intact penis including washing instructions.

    • Christa

      i came across this website when i was pregnant with my 2nd son, 3rd child, with my 2nd 1st son is not circumcised but neither was his 2nd husband is, so it only seemed natural for him.. then i researched it to show him as i was crying and saying i could never do this to my perfectly born son created in God’s image..i wouldn’t do it to my daughter..he came around and both my boys are intact

  • Jen W

    Great post! Thank you so much for sharing. I also had my first son circumcised because that is what my doctor said we needed to do and that was what everyone I knew did. After a very traumatic healing from birth #2 we started researching natural birth and it opened up a whole world of new ideas. The thought of having son #2 circumcised made me sick (and even more sick to think what we did to son #1 out of ignorance). Luckily the lesson we have learned is not to do anything without researching it first. The same doctor told me during my pregnancy with son #2 (less than 2 years later) that many insurance companies were no longer covering circumcisions because they were now considered “cosmetic procedures”. Oh how I wished she had told me that 2 years before.
    Just to echo what a couple of moms have already said…make sure you tell your pediatrician BEFORE any well child visit “do not retract his foreskin”. I’ve had a couple of doctors do this and didn’t realize the problems it can cause in the future with adhesions until my midwife and I talked about it. Even the doctors who are intact friendly have had no idea what they were talking about with foreskin care. They have both told me that I needed to ocassionally retract it. I’ll be having a talk with him at our next visit:)

  • Beth Bagley

    Great Post! I will be referring my pregnant patients here and I’m going to print out a copy so they can make an innformed decision. I have only had girls so have not had to make the decision but if I ever have a boy this will be something I will have my husband read too. Thank you so much for sharing your path of enlightenment.

  • BCouture

    I feel so helpless with this subject,my husband refuses to listen to my pleas I don’t want this for my baby! I have even thought of leaving running away far away where my baby will not be harmed. He says its his religious belief, then he says I want the baby to be dirty like all the mexicans I know, because I am mexican and he is white, this is really ruining us. He refuses to talk about it. I try sending him links with more info on why not to do it but he probably don’t read them because I get no response. When I can’t stop crying about it he says its a long time away and I shouldn’t feel this way for this long but when am I supposed to try and stop this from happening if not now.. I feel as if he is just trying to stall me so he can have it done at the last moment without me consenting. What can I do to keep this from happening? I refuse it, I can’t stomach the thought of it happening, I feel so heart broken!

    • Darcy

      If it were my baby, I’d protect him at all costs, even if that meant protecting him from his own father. You are his mother, that is your job. I’m pretty sure his father can’t get it done without your consent. Be sure to tell all the doctors involved that you DO NOT consent and will sue if they touch your son. And stand your ground, mama.

    • Kelley Mason

      I am horrified that your dh would make such an insensitive comment referring to “dirty mexicans”!! He is obviously extremely ignorant. I don’t like to advise moms to do things that would cause a rift in a marriage, but I know for me, my son would be circed over my dead body (literally, I would lie across them to protect them). I feel that as mom, it is my job to protect my children. That said, your dh also deserves to be educated, even if he acts like a jackass! I have found that for men who are very stubborn, showing them all the famous athletes and celebrities who are intact goes a long way towards making them see how normal and even ‘manly’ it is to have your body whole. There is a gallery of famous people here I’d print this out and leave it lying around (maybe in the bathroom) where he can look at it. Also, here is a youtube video (if you can catch him for a few minutes) that shows some of them too You would be surprised the number of men in hollywood who are intact!!

      Kelley (mom to 5 intact sons and 1 intact daughter)

  • Christa

    I would never circumcise my daughter..therefore neither one of my sons are circumcised… people need to be educated..thanks for sharing 🙂

  • David J. Llewellyn

    I came across a quote from Leonardo da Vinci last night that has relevance to the issue of the foreskin and circumcision:

    “Human subtlety . . . will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple, or more direct than does nature, because in her inventions, nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.”

    Does this not speak to the argument that circumcision somehow improves upon nature or makes man more perfect? Isn’t it only logical that nature knows best and that the foreskin is there to protect the head of the penis and to provide sexual pleasure upon maturity? Why would anyone ever want to cut it off? It just doesn’t make any sense.

    Thanks for a great article!!

  • lindsey

    My bf isn’t circumsized and we got into a fight about it cause we find out soon what we are having and everyone in my family I know of is and I’ve never been with a guy that wasn’t and after reading this artical you are right about all of it and if I am goin to have a boy I might not get him circumsized and plus its a $300 dollar procedure lol that could go to dipars and other nessecitys for the baby

  • Hugh7

    Excellent article, I will add a link from

    @Kristen: “to each their own…”
    Exactly! To each his own.
    “…it is your baby…”
    – held in trust until he becomes a man, not ownership
    “… and you must make the best decision for your baby.”
    But in most of the developed world, parents don’t have to make any decision. Circumcision is not offered and not asked for.

    This “important decision that parents must make” is relatively recent – informed consent only became law in 1972. Before that doctors could just do it without asking, and that has a lot to do with how it became customary.

    The whole of the English-speaking world tried the experiment, but outside the US they gave it up, and you know, there has been no outbreak of any of the diseases it was supposed to be good against. In the 1950s, Australian and New Zealand boys were circumcised as ferociously as in the USA; now it’s hard to find a doctor willing to do it. A generation has grown up looking unlike their fathers, with no apparent problems there either.

  • Morgan

    I have a daughter but this came up while I was pregnant as we didn’t know until she was here. That video was the most awful thing to watch! It was only 8 or so minutes it felt like the dr was doing it so slow! Great information here and I imagine when we get pregnant with our next this will definitely come up again and I will come back to this to show my fiance.

  • KM

    Interesting post. I agree that it is written with love.

    We have three sons. Two are circumcised and one is not. My husband -the most loving, gentle father I know – was present at both circumcisions. Our boys *were* given anesthetic and experienced no more distress than when they did the heal prick. Both boys have had zero problems and I don’t anticipate anything in the future.

    I’m not a fan of circumcision by any means. I convinced my husband that our third son would be fine in-tact. But I do think the procedure is portrayed as more barbaric than it really is. Also, parents don’t circ their sons because they don’t really love their boys or because they are uninformed. Our first two circs were very well-thought out decisions. My husband has never regretted his procedure and I don’t expect my eldest sons to have issues, either. While I’m happy that my youngest did not have to go through the procedure, I don’t carry any guilt about his brothers.

    My husband gets flabbergasted that the majority of vocal anti-circumcision advocates are women. Most men, he argues, just don’t give it much thought. His healthy perspective has informed my viewpoint on the matter.

    • Chris

      I’m a male and I’ve given it heaps of thought! I don’t want my son circumcised…It’s barbaric, needless and in my opinion, borderline child abuse. Husbands and boyfriends listen to your women… don’t allow anyone with a knife, clamps or scissors near the peepee!

  • Just a Mom

    Before I proceed, may I just ask that mine and my husband’s personal feelings and religious beliefs be treated with respect?

    I have been doing a lot of research about circumcision. All three of my sons were circumcised, and I have come to believe that it was wrong. I am sick when I think about what I put them through. My husband is circumcised. I have approached the subject with him several times in recent months, and he becomes quite upset when we talk about it. I read the above linked article (in someone else’s comment) about how to approach your husbands and what they are probably feeling. I honestly don’t think my husband’s issue against circ. has anything to do with his sexual self-image. He is happy the way he is. I am happy the way he is and he knows that. Perhaps it’s just due to horrible timing on my part, but he won’t take the time to read anything about it (he’s working on a PhD!) right now. (Maybe it’s cause we’re not even pregnant yet?! :)) Anyway, his main comment is “I am grateful every day for my circumcision.” He really takes issue with the cleanliness factor and appropriate hygiene required for an uncirc’d penis, especially in the teen years. You see, in our religion, we believe masturbation is a serious sexual sin (meaning, it is not approved of by God). So, we both take issue with the argument that “most boys would rather clean their penis than wash behind their ears,” as frequent touching of the penis (whether circumcised or uncircd) is something we want to avoid. My husband firmly believes that an uncirc’d penis would lead to greater temptation and/or incident of masturbation. So when he says he’s grateful every day for his circumcision, he is primarily referring to his gratitude at not having that extra temptation present in his life. We want our sons to grow up to be men who honor the commandments of God. And my husband feels like this is the best way to help them with the issue of masturbation.

    So, anyone out there share our same beliefs regarding masturbation yet not circumcised their sons? Or are any of you men uncircumcised and still hold our same beliefs about masturbation? I want some way to show my husband that it is still possible to remain chaste and pure and not masturbate despite an uncircumcised penis. (Personally, I think temptation of all kinds will be present in our lives, and it is up to us as parents to just teach our children how to resist it.)

    • Mrs. BWF

      I respect your religious views and yes, to an extent share the same belief, however, I do not see how circumcision in any way helps with boys/men not masturbating (or the temptation to do so). My husband didn’t want to discuss it at first either…what man wants to talk about something that was done that should not have been? He needs to open his heart and mind and let go of pride and fear. (((hugs)))

    • Stormwatch

      That was baffling. Are you guys still stuck in the victorian age? Masturbation is not a sin, it is absolutely normal and healthy. If anything, it is circumcision that is sinful (see Galatians 5).

      • Kelley Mason

        I am a Christian, though I don’t hold your specific views on masturbation. We can and should as parents do what we can to protect our children from things that we believe are wrong and harmful. But 2 wrongs don’t make a right. I try to remove temptation from my kids lives as much as possible, at least until they are at an age where they have the self control and ability to make good decisions and know right from wrong (I cannot shelter them forever). But I do this by teaching them (as you said in your last sentence). If I don’t want them to lie, I teach them about lying, I don’t cut out their tongue to prevent them from lying. I don’t cut off their hand to prevent them from stealing. I know these are not the same thing, but the idea is the same . . . going to great lengths, and/or altering the body that GOD gave them, that HE designed, to help keep them from sinning. And if I were to believe masturbation to be wrong, I wouldn’t subject them to cosmetic surgery on the chance that it may, perhaps, make them less likely to give into temptation. All boys will be different, each man will have to deal with different levels of temptation, and I am not in my sons body to know what he experiences, what his temptations are, what he struggles with, nor will completely know what is in his heart. My job as a parent is not to make decisions for them, and it is not my right to alter their body. If your son gets older and feels that being intact is making it too hard to resist masturbation, then HE can make the decision to get circumcised, just as your husband could have had he been given the choice (he has no way of knowing if being intact would have made resisting masturbation harder, that is just his theory).
        I don’t believe that God made a mistake when He created the penis with a protective foreskin, and I don’t believe that we (man) need to ‘correct’ God’s perfect design.

        Kelley (mom to 5 intact boys and 1 intact girl)

    • Aurora

      It was “Dr” Kellog (Yes of Kellog Cereal) that started this myth & it IS a MYTH. Circ’d males masterbate just as much as uncirc’d males.

  • Tim Trent

    The logic is refreshing and each point is well made. One of the challenges in the discussion over circumcision is in challenging deeply held views. It doesn’t matter whether the views have logic behind them, the views are deep.

    Those of us who oppose routine infant circumcision need to recognise that we will not ‘save every child’. All we need to do, while regretting the circumcision of children who really ought not to have been circumcised, is to continue to sway those who were about to cut, but who have the ability to learn from real facts rather than cant and dogma.

    In the UK we have no need to legislate against circumcision. It just died out. No-one promoted it and no-one campaigned against it. The 50:50 in my school showers in the latter half of the 1960s is now, religious circumcision apart, almost 100% natural. Statistics show this. I don’t patrol school showers! It took several years, and it just died out. When I was a child I was friends with two brothers. Their father was our family doctor. The older was cut, the younger left as nature intended. His wife was a nurse. If this medical family cut the first one might ask “why?” especially when they left the second alone. But the habit died out.

    It withered in part because it was an elective surgery and no longer funded under the UK’s National Health Service. Otherwise it withered because parents must have realised that it was pointless. Today we know it is more than pointless, it’s essential not to do it. It hurts badly and it removes the nerves and receptors which are necessary for a full sex life, and does that in addition to placing a raw wound in a diaper full of poop.

  • Ashlea Flores

    Thank you for an awesome article. My son is not circumsized, neither is my husband. There was never even a question in my husbands mind that we would circumsize him BUT I will say growing up I thought that is something that “boys” always had done, it was through my husband that I started to understand more about it.

  • Theresa Armstrong

    Thanks to this wonderfully written entry, my best friend has decided to keep her future son/s intact! She read it last night after I shared it on Facebook…when just a few weeks ago we were discussing non-circ’ing and she was a little put off about it. Thank you SO much for writing and sharing this!!!

  • Tina Gardner

    Very informative. I am a mom with five sons. The last three are not circumcised. I was against circumcision but my husband insisted that because he was circumcised our son should be. Something went wrong when our 2nd son was circumcised and he had to be rushed in for a circumcision revision. I went thru a couple scary hours waiting for the news that there had been no tissue or vessel damage. There was no way I would allow the last three boys to be circumcised.

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