IMPORTANT:This page has used Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia in either a refactored, modified, abridged, expanded, built on or 'straight from' text content! (view authors)

File:The Mutiliation of Uranus by Saturn.jpg

The Castration of Uranus: fresco by Vasari & Cristofano Gherardi (c. 1560, Sala di Cosimo I, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence).

Castration (also referred to as gelding, spaying, neutering, fixing, orchiectomy, oophorectomy) is any action, surgical, chemical, or otherwise, by which a male loses the functions of the testicles or a female loses the functions of the ovaries.

In humans

The practice of castration has its roots before recorded human history.[1] Castration was frequently used for religious or social reasons in certain cultures in Europe, the Middle East, India, Africa, Korea, and China. After battles in some cases, winners castrated their captives or the corpses of the defeated to symbolize their victory and "seize" their power. Castrated men —eunuchs — were often admitted to special social classes and were used particularly to staff bureaucracies and palace households: in particular, the harem. Castration also figured in a number of religious castration cults. Other religions, for example Judaism, were strongly opposed to the practice. The Leviticus Holiness code, for example, specifically excludes eunuchs or any males with defective genitals from the priesthood, just as castrated animals are excluded from sacrifice.

Eunuchs in China had been known to usurp power in many eras of Chinese history, most notably in the Later Han, late Tang and late Ming Dynasty. There are similar recorded Middle Eastern events.

In ancient times, castration often involved the total removal of all the male genitalia. This involved great danger of death due to bleeding or infection and, in some states, such as the Byzantine Empire, was seen as the same as a death sentence. Removal of only the testicles had much less risk.


Testicular cancer is generally treated by surgical removal of the cancerous testicle(s) (orchiectomy), often followed by radiation or chemotherapy. Unless both testicles are cancerous, only one is removed.

Either surgical removal of both testicles or chemical castration may be carried out in the case of prostate cancer,[2] as testosterone-depletion treatment to slow down the cancer. Similarly, testosterone-depletion treatment (either surgical removal of both testicles or chemical castration) is used to greatly reduce sexual drive or interest in those with sexual drives, obsessions, or behaviors, or any combination of those that may be considered deviant. Castration in humans has been proposed, and sometimes used, as a method of birth control in certain poorer regions.

Male-to-female transsexuals often undergo orchiectomy, as do some other transgendered people. Orchiectomy may be performed as a part of more general sex reassignment surgery, either before or during other procedures, but it may also be performed on someone who does not desire, or cannot afford, further surgery.


Involuntary castration appears in the history of warfare, sometimes used by one side to torture or demoralize their enemies. It was practiced to extinguish opposing male lineages and thus allow the victor to sexually possess the defeated group's women.

Edward Gibbon's famous work Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire reports castration of defeated foes at the hands of the Romans. Castration has been used in modern conflicts, as the Janjaweed militiamen currently (as of 2005) attacking citizens of the Darfur region in Sudan, often castrating villagers and leaving them to bleed to death.[3]

Sima Qian, the famous Chinese historian, was castrated by order of the Emperor of China for dissent.

Another famous victim of castration was the medieval French philosopher, scholar, teacher, and (later) monk Pierre Abélard. He was castrated by relatives of his lover, Héloïse.

Bishop Wimund, a 12th-century English adventurer and invader of the Scottish coast, was castrated.

William Wallace, the Scottish resistance leader, was castrated as part of his execution, for resistance to English rule.

Some legends say that Genghis Khan was castrated by a Tangut princess using a knife, who wanted revenge against his treatment of the Tanguts and stop him from raping her.[4]

During the Miao Rebellions (Ming Dynasty), Chinese commanders castrated thousands of Miao boys when their tribes revolted, and then distributed them as eunuch slaves as gifts to various officials.[5]

In 1778, Thomas Jefferson wrote a law in Virginia that contained a punishment of castration for men who engage in rape, polygamy or sodomy.[6]

Aqa Mohammad Khan Qajar, who established the Qajar Dynasty in Iran (in 18th century), was a victim of castration by officers of the previous kingdom. When he conquered Lotf Ali Khan, the last king of the Zand Dynasty, Qajar had Khan castrated in revenge.

Yaqub Beg's son and grandsons were castrated by the Chinese in 1879 and turned into eunuchs to work in the Imperial Palace.[7]

Preventive measure

"Voluntary" chemical or surgical castration has been in practice in many countries—reports are available from American and European countries in particular for over eighty years (chemical for circa thirty)—as an option for treatment for people who have broken laws of a sexual nature, allowing them to return to the community from otherwise lengthy detentions.[citation needed] The effectiveness and ethics of this treatment are heavily debated.

A temporary chemical castration has been studied and developed as a preventive measure and punishment for several repeated sex crimes, such as rape or other sexually related violence.[8][9]

Physical castration appears to be highly effective as, historically, it results in a 20-year re-offense rate of less than 2.3% vs. 80% in the untreated control group, according to a large 1963 study involving a total of 1036 sex offenders by the German researcher A. Langelüddeke, among others[10]—much lower than what was otherwise expected. Compare to overall sex offender recidivism rates.

In modern times, the Czech Republic practices surgically castrating convicted sex offenders. According to the reports compiled by Council of Europe, a human-rights forum, the central European country physically castrated at least 94 prisoners in the 10 years up to April 2008. The Czech Republic defends this procedure as voluntary and effective.[11] According to Dr. Martin Hollý, director of the Psychiatric Hospital Bohnice in Prague, none of the nearly 100 sex offenders who had been physically castrated had committed further offenses.[12] One serial offender stated that being castrated was the "best decision" he ever made: "On the one hand you have to protect the potential victims and on the other hand I wanted to be protected from myself, I wanted to live like a normal person."[13] Don Grubin, a professor at Newcastle University's Institute of Neuroscience who also runs a chemical castration program backed by the U.K.'s Ministry of Justice, was initially opposed to physical castration. After visiting the Czech Republic, however, he agreed that form of castration might be of benefit to some sex offenders.[13][14]

Trafficking of boys for prostitution

An article in the Gulf Times revealed a major sex trade in mostly Nepalese boys who were lured to India and sold to brothels in Mumbai, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Lucknow and Gorakhpur. One victim was lured from Nepal at the age of 14, sold into slavery, locked up, beaten, starved, and forcibly circumcised. He reported that he was held in a brothel with 40 to 50 other boys, many of whom were castrated. He escaped and made his way back to Nepal. Two Non Government Organisations, one that works with homosexuals in Nepal, and one that works to rescue and rehabilitate trafficked women and children, were co-operating to help and rescue these boys.[15]

Sexual fetish

Castration play is one of many fetishes within the BDSM community, although it is not a mainstream activity. In castration play, one simulates the after effects of castration without actually performing castration. It leads to the removal or destruction of the testicles as a sexual fantasy in some cases.


In Europe, when women were not permitted to sing in church or cathedral choirs in the Roman Catholic Church, boys might be castrated to prevent their voices breaking at puberty and to develop a special high voice. The first documents mentioning castrati are Italian church records from the 1550s.[16] In the baroque and classical music eras these singers were highly appreciated by opera composers as well. Mozart's Exultate Jubilate, Allegri's Miserere and other famous pieces from this period now sung by sopranos and countertenors were written for castrati. The alto parts of Handel's Messiah were first sung by a castrato. Famous castrati include Farinelli, Senesino, Carestini, and Caffarelli. Joseph Haydn was almost castrated. The last castrato was Alessandro Moreschi (1858–1922) who served in the Sistine Chapel Choir.[17] In the late 19th century, the Roman Catholic Church, which had always considered castration to be mutilation of the body and therefore a severe sin, officially condemned the production of castrati; their castrations had been performed clandestinely in contravention of Church law.[citation needed]


A number of religious cults have included castration as a central theme of their practice. These include:

  • The cult of Cybele, in which devotees castrated themselves in ecstatic emulation of Attis: see Gallus.
  • Some followers of early Christianity considered castration as an acceptable way to counter sinful desires of the flesh. Origen is reported by Eusebius[18] to have castrated himself based on his reading of the Gospel of Matthew 19:12, although there is some doubt concerning this story (Schaff[citation needed] considers the account genuine but cites Baur et al.[citation needed] in opposition.) Origen argues against such literal interpretations of other passages from Matthew in his First Principles.
  • Boston Corbett was inspired by this same verse 19:12 to castrate himself (Corbett was the 19th-century American soldier who is generally believed to have fired the shot that killed John Wilkes Booth.)
  • Bishop Melito of Sardis (d. ca 180) was a eunuch, according to the church history of Eusebius of Caesarea, though, significantly the word "virgin" was substituted in Rufino's Latin translation of Eusebius.
  • Skoptsy
  • Heaven's Gate

While (Template:Bibleverse-lb) expels castrated men from the assembly of Israel, (Template:Bibleverse-lb), gives a much more accepting view of eunuchs, and in (Acts 8:34-8:39), a eunuch is baptized.

Orthodox Judaism[19] and Islam[citation needed] forbid the castration of either humans or animals.

In ancient Judaism, castrated animals were deemed unfit for sacrifice in the Temple (Lev 22:24). Castrated members of the priestly caste were forbidden to enter certain parts of the temple, to approach the altar, or to make sacrifices, although they could eat their share of the offerings (Lv. 21:16–24).


In the case of chemical castration, ongoing regular injections of anti-androgens are required.

Chemical castration seems to have a greater effect on bone density than physical castration[citation needed]. Since the development of teriparatide, this severe bone loss has been able to be reversed in nearly every case[citation needed]. At this time there is a limitation on the use of this medication to 24 months until the long-term use is better evaluated[citation needed].

With the advent of chemical castration, physical castration is not generally recommended by the medical community unless medically necessary or desired.[citation needed]

Medical consequences

A subject of castration who is altered before the onset of puberty will retain a high voice, non-muscular build, and small genitals. He may well be taller than average, as the production of sex hormones in puberty—more specifically, estrogen via aromatization of testosterone—stops long bone growth. The person may not develop pubic hair and will have a small sex drive or none at all. Castrations after the onset of puberty will typically reduce the sex drive considerably or eliminate it altogether. Also castrated people are automatically sterile, because the testes (for males) and ovaries (for females) produce sex cells needed for sexual reproduction. Once removed the subject is infertile. The voice does not change. Some castrates report mood changes, such as depression or a more serene outlook on life. Body strength and muscle mass can decrease somewhat. Body hair sometimes may decrease. Castration prevents male pattern baldness if it is done before hair is lost. However, castration will not restore hair growth after hair has already been lost due to male pattern baldness.[20]

Historically, eunuchs who additionally underwent a penectomy reportedly suffered from urinary incontinence associated with the removal of the penis.[21]

Without hormone replacement therapy (HRT), typical symptoms (similar to those experienced by menopausal women) include hot flashes, gradual bone-density loss resulting in osteopenia or osteoporosis, and potential weight gain or redistribution of body fat to the hips/chest. Replacement of testosterone in the form of gel, patches, or injections can largely reverse these effects, although breast enlargement has also been reported as a possible side effect of testosterone usage.[22]

In psychoanalysis and literary theory

The concept of castration plays an important role in psychoanalysis; see, for example, castration anxiety.

Castration (as a metaphor) also plays an important role in psychoanalytically-influenced literary theory, for example Harold Bloom's The Anxiety of Influence. Poetry can also be seen as castrating, with male poets either being castrated through being outdone by their male predecessors, or male poets (and even mere readers) being castrated by the force of the female sublime as conveyed to them through poetry.[citation needed]

In veterinary practice

Castration is commonly performed on domestic animals not intended for breeding. Domestic animals are usually castrated to avoid unwanted or uncontrolled reproduction; to reduce or prevent other manifestations of sexual behaviour such as territorial behaviour or aggression (e.g. fighting between groups of entire (uncastrated) males of a species); or to reduce other consequences of sexual behaviour that may make animal husbandry more difficult, such as boundary/fence/enclosure destruction when attempting to get to nearby females of the species.

Male horses are usually castrated (gelded) using emasculators, because stallions are rather aggressive and troublesome. The same applies to male mules, although they are sterile. Male cattle are castrated to improve fattening and docility in feedlots or for use as oxen. Breeding individuals are kept entire and used for breeding: they may fetch higher prices when sold.

Livestock may be castrated when used for food to increase growth or weight or both of individual male animals[citation needed] and because of the undesirable taste and odor of the meat from sexually mature males. In domestic pigs the taint, called boar taint, is caused by androstenone and skatole concentrations stored in the fat tissues of the animal after sexual maturity.[23] Boar taint is only found in a small minority of pigs and can be controlled through breeding selection, diet and management.[24] It is released when the fat is heated and has a distinct odor and flavor that is widely considered unpalatable to consumers.[25] Consequently, in commercial meat production, male pigs are either castrated shortly after birth or slaughtered before they reach sexual maturity.[25] Recent research in Brazil has shown that castration of pigs is unnecessary because most pigs do not have the 'boar taint'. This is due to many breeds of pigs simply not having the heredity for the boar taint and the fact that pigs are normally slaughtered at a young market weight.[26]

In the case of pets, castration is usually called neutering, and is encouraged to prevent overpopulation of the community by unwanted animals, and to reduce certain diseases such as prostate disease and testicular cancer in male dogs (oophorectomy in female pets is often called spaying). Testicular cancer is rare in dogs, but prostate problems are somewhat common in unaltered male dogs when they get older.[citation needed] Neutered individuals have a much lower risk of developing prostate problems in comparison.[citation needed] Unaltered male cats are more likely to develop an obstruction in their urethra, preventing them from urinating to some degree[citation needed]; however neutering does not seem to make much difference statistically because many neutered toms also have the problem.[citation needed] There is significant evidence that castration, neutering and spaying may cause cancer and other disease issues in animals and humans due to hormonal disruption.[27] A specialized vocabulary has arisen for neutered animals of given species:

An incompletely castrated male in livestock species (horse and cattle) is known as a rig.

The term stag is used for a male animal castrated after the secondary sex characteristics have developed to such a point as to give it the appearance of sexual maturity.

Methods of veterinary castration include instant surgical removal, the use of an elastrator tool to secure a band around the testicles that disrupts the blood supply, the use of a Burdizzo tool or emasculators to crush the spermatic cords and disrupt the blood supply, pharmacological injections and implants and immunological techniques to inoculate the animal against its own sexual hormones.

Certain animals, like horses and swine, are usually surgically treated with a scrotal castration (which can be done with the animal standing while sedated and after local anaesthetic has been applied), while others, like dogs and cats, are anaesthetised and recumbent when surgically castrated with a pre-scrotal incision in the case of dogs, or a pre-scrotal or scrotal incision used for cats.

In veterinary practice an "open" castration refers to a castration in which the inguinal tunic is incised and not sutured. A "closed" castration refers to when the procedure is performed so that the inguinal tunic is sutured together after incision.

From parasitic infection

Some parasitic nematodes chemically castrate their hosts. For example, Microphallus pseudopygmaeus chemically castrates its host, the snail Onoba aculeus, and causes it to grow larger than normal.

See also


  1. "On Target". On Target (newsletter). Target Health, Inc.. 2003-07-27. Retrieved 2007-04-30. Section II: HISTORY OF MEDICINE
  3. In Darfur, My Camera Was Not Nearly Enough
  4. CHRISTOPHER HUDSON (22 May 2007). "Genghis Khan: The daddy of all lovers". Daily Mail. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
  5. Shih-shan Henry Tsai (1996). The eunuchs in the Ming dynasty. SUNY Press. p. 16. ISBN 0791426874. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  6. Thomas Jefferson, A Bill for Proportioning Crimes and Punishments 1778 Papers 2:492--504
  7. Peter Tompkins (1963). The eunuch and the virgin: a study of curious customs. C. N. Potter. p. 32. Retrieved 2010-11-30.
  8. Katherine Amlin. "Chemical Castration: The Benefits and Disadvantages Intrinsic to Injecting Male Pedophiliacs with Depo-Provera". Retrieved 2007-06-13.
  9. "'Chemical castration' OK'd for Montana inmates". N.Y. Times News Service. 1997. Retrieved 2007-06-13.
  11. Council of Europe report on the Czech Republic
  12. Europeans Debate Castration of Sex Offenders
  13. 13.0 13.1 Whitehead, Tom (2009-05-20). "Sex offences advisor backs castration". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-05-30.[dead link]
  14. "Cutting the numbers re-offending?". Channel 4. 2009-05-20. Retrieved 2009-05-30.
  15. "Former sex worker’s tale spurs rescue mission". Gulf Times. 10 April 2005. Retrieved 5 October 2010. "“I spent seven years in hell,” says Raju, now 21, trying hard not to cry. Thapa Magar took him to Rani Haveli, a brothel in Mumbai that specialised in male sex workers and sold him for Nepali Rs 85,000. A Muslim man ran the flesh trade there in young boys and girls, most of them lured from Nepal. For two years, Raju was kept locked up, taught to dress as a girl and circumcised. Many of the other boys there were castrated. Beatings and starvation became a part of his life. “There were 40 to 50 boys in the place,” a gaunt, brooding Raju recalls. “Most of them were Nepalese.”"
  16. John Rosselli, "Castrato" article in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2001.
  17. "All Mouth and No Trousers" from The Guardian, Aug 5 2002.
  18. NPNF2-01. Eusebius Pamphilius: Church History, Life of Constantine, Oration in Praise of Constantine
  19. Leviticus 22:24, Talmud Shabbos 110b
  20. Hamilton JB. Effect of castration in adolescent and young adult males upon further changes in the proportion of bare and hairy scalp. J Clin Endocrinol metab 1960; 20:1309-1315.
  22.!gid2=2824 "HRT for Men Is Risky, Too" by Robert W. Griffith, MD.
  23. Genetics of Boar Taint: Implications for the Future Use of Intact Males
  24. "Evaluation of High Tech vs Low Tech Boar Taint Controls"
  25. 25.0 25.1 Genetic Inhibition of Boar Odor in Meat
  26. Sugar Mountain Farm: To Cut or Not?


  • Patrick Barbier, The World of the Castrati: the History of an Extraordinary Operatic Phenomenon Souvenir, 1996, ISBN 0-285-63309-0
  • Susan Elliott, Cutting Too Close for Comfort: Paul's Letter to the Galatians in Its Anatolian Cultic Context Reviews in Review of Biblical Literature [1]
  • Travis Nygard and Alec Sonsteby. "Castration." In The Cultural Encyclopedia of the Body, edited by Victoria Pitts, pages 502-507. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2008.
  • Theresa McCuaig, "Understanding Castration." 2009.

External links

Template:Male genital procedures

af:Kastrasie ar:إخصاء bg:Кастрация ca:Castració cs:Kastrace da:Kastration de:Kastration es:Castración eo:Kastro fa:اخته fr:Castration fy:Untmanning ko:거세 hr:Kastracija is:Gelding it:Castrazione he:סירוס la:Castratio hu:Kasztrálás mk:Кастрација nl:Castratie ja:去勢 no:Kastrasjon nn:Kastrere pl:Kastracja pt:Castração ru:Кастрация simple:Castration sk:Kastrát sr:Кастрација sh:Kastracija fi:Kastraatio sv:Kastrering uk:Кастрація wa:Amedaedje zh:閹割

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.