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Castration (also referred to as: gelding, neutering, fixing, orchiectomy, and orchidectomy) is any action, surgical, chemical, or otherwise, by which a male loses the functions of the testicles. In common usage the term is usually applied to males, although as a medical term it is applied to both males and females. For more information about female castration, see oophorectomy.
Castration in humans[edit | edit source]
The practice of castration has its roots before recorded human history. Castration was frequently used in certain cultures of Europe, the Middle East, India, Africa and China, for religious or social reasons. After battles in some cases, winners castrated their captives or the corpses of the defeated to symbolise 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 and Islam, 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.
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.
In China, castration of a male who entered the caste of eunuchs during imperial times involved the removal of the whole genitalia, that is, the removal of the testes, penis, and scrotum. The removed organs were returned to the eunuch to be interred with him when he died so that, upon rebirth, he could become a whole man again. The penis, testicles, and scrotum were euphemistically termed bǎo (寶) in Mandarin Chinese, which literally means 'precious treasure'. These were preserved in alcohol and kept in a pottery jar by the eunuch.
Medical[edit | edit source]
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, as hormone 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.Template:Which[How to reference and link to summary or text]
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.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
As punishment[edit | edit source]
Involuntary castration also appears in the history of warfare, sometimes used by one side to torture or demoralize their enemies. Even when performed quickly, as by a sword strike, it is excruciatingly painful, because not only the testicles, but also the spermatic cords, are thickly wrapped in nerve fibers and extremely sensitive to impact and injury.. Castration was also practised to extinguish opposing male lineages and thus allow the victor to sexually possess the defeated group's women.
Tamerlane was recorded to have castrated Armenian prisoners of war who had fought as allies of the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I, while others were buried alive.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
Edward Gibbon's famous work Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire reports castration of defeated foes at the hands of the Normans. Castration has also been used in modern conflicts, as the Janjaweed militiamen attacking citizens of the Darfur region in Sudan, often castrating villagers and leaving them to bleed to death.
Another famous victim of castration was the medieval French philosopher, scholar, teacher, and (later) monk Pierre Abélard, castrated by relatives of his lover, Héloïse.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
"Voluntary" chemical or surgical castration has been in practice in many countries—reports are available from American, Scandinavian, and European countries, in particular, for the past eighty-plus years (chemical for the last thirty or so years)—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 [How to reference and link to summary or text]. 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. Chemical castration was Alan Turing's punishment when he was convicted of "acts of gross indecency" (homosexual acts) in 1952; it resulted indirectly in his suicide.
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, much lower than what was otherwise expected compared to overall sex offender recidivism rates.
Sexual[edit | edit source]
Castration play is one of many fetishes within the BDSM community, although it is not as well known by the mainstream. In castration play, one simulates the effects of castration without an actual castration occurring.
For religious reasons[edit | edit source]
In Europe, when women were not permitted to sing in church or cathedral choirs in the Roman Catholic Church, boys were sometimes 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. In the baroque music era these singers were highly appreciated by Opera composers as well. Famous castrati include Farinelli, Senesino, Carestini, and Caffarelli. Joseph Haydn was almost castrated. The last castrato, and the only one of which recordings are extant, was Alessandro Moreschi (1858-1922) who served in the Sistine Chapel Choir. However, in the late 1800s, 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.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
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  to have castrated himself based on his reading of the Gospel of Matthew
, although there is some doubt concerning this story (Schaff[How to reference and link to summary or text] considers the account genuine but cites Baur et al.[How to reference and link to summary or text] in opposition). Boston Corbett was likewise inspired by this same verse 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. First Canon of First Council of Nicea condemns self-castration, attesting to presence of this practice in 4th century.
Chemical[edit | edit source]
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. Since the development of teriparatide, this severe bone loss has been able to be reversed in nearly every case. At this time there is a limitation on the use of this medication to 24 months until the long-term use is better evaluated.
With the advent of chemical castration, physical castration is not generally recommended by the medical community unless medically necessary or desired.
Medical consequences[edit | edit source]
A male subject who is castrated before the onset of puberty will retain a high voice, non-muscular build, and small genitals. Castrated boys may grow to be taller than average men because, without the input of hormones, the long bones continue to grow. This extra height is referred to sometimes as the 'eunuchoid' effect. This can be avoided in trans girls (those who transition from boy to girl) by administering estrogen which caps unwanted 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 sex drive considerably or eliminate it altogether. Also, castrates are automatically sterile, because the testes produce sex cells needed for sexual reproduction. The voice does not deepen with the onset of puberty. 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. Castration necessarily eliminates the risk of testicular cancer.
Without hormone replacement therapy (HRT), typical symptoms (similar to those experienced by menopausal women) include hot flashes; gradual bone density loss, possibly resulting in osteopenia and/or osteoporosis; potential weight gain or redistribution of body fat to the hips and/or chest. Replacement of testosterone via gel, patches, or injections, can largely reverse these effects, although breast enlargement has also been reported as a possible side effect of testosterone usage.
Castration in psychoanalysis and literary theory[edit | edit source]
Castration 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 (as in Bloom), or male poets (and even mere readers) being castrated by the force of the female sublime as conveyed to them through poetry (as in Maxwell). Catherine Maxwell identifies Philomela as being castrated by Tereus when he rapes and mutilates her.[citations needed]
Castration in veterinary practice[edit | edit source]
Castration is commonly performed on domestic animals not intended for breeding. Domestic animals are usually castrated in order 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 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 muscling and docility for use as oxen.
Livestock may be castrated when used for food in order to increase growth or weight or both of individual male animals and because of the undesirable taste and odor of the meat from sexually mature males. In domestic pigs the taint is caused by androstenone and skatole concentrations stored in the fat tissues of the animal after sexual maturity. It is released when the fat is heated and has a distinct odor and flavor that is widely considered unpalatable to consumers. Consequently, in commercial meat production, male pigs are either castrated shortly after birth or slaughtered before they reach sexual maturity. 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.
In the case of pets, castration is usually called neutering, and is encouraged to prevent overpopulation of the community by unwanted animals, and to reduced 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. Neutered individuals have a much lower risk of developing prostate problems in comparison, except for prostate cancer, for which there is an increased risk. Unaltered male cats are more likely to develop an obstruction in their urethra, preventing them from urinating to some degree; however neutering does not seem to make much difference statistically because many neutered toms also have the problem.[clarify]
A specialized vocabulary has arisen for neutered animals of given species:
- Barrow (pig)
- Bullock, Ox, Steer (cattle)
- Capon (chicken)
- Wether (sheep, goat)
- Gelding (horse)
- Gib (cat, ferret)
- Havier (deer)
- UVA Cavalier (turkey)
- Lapin (rabbit)
- Stag (cattle, sheep)
An incompletely castrated male in livestock species (horse and cattle) is known as a rig. A stag is a late or incompletely castrated male in sheep and cattle.
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, such as 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. Standing castration often is performed in a standing stock. For horses and other equines, side lying castration is an alternative, in which case a perineal approach may be used.
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.
Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]
- Orthodox Judaism[How to reference and link to summary or text] and Islam[How to reference and link to summary or text] both forbid the castration of either humans or animals. In ancient Judaism, castrated animals were deemed unfit for sacrifice in the Temple (Lv. 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). Traditionally, no eunuch is allowed to convert to Judaism (Dt. 23:2, or Dt. 23:1, NRSV).
- Castration is used as a treatment for prostate cancer. 
- Some parasitic nematodes chemically castrate their hosts, see microphallus.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Ashley X
- Birth control
- Castration anxiety
- Castrato, a castrated male singer
- Inguinal orchiectomy
- List of transgender-related topics
- Penis removal
- Spaying and neutering (for animals)
[edit | edit source]
- Castration Through the Ages
- The Journal of Clinical Endrocrinology and Metabolism
- Boar taint in pigs selected for components of efficient lean growth rate
Notes[edit | edit source]
- On Target, July 27 2003. On Target (newsletter). Target Health, Inc.. URL accessed on 2007-04-30. Section II: HISTORY OF MEDICINE Though to say where to put changes... But where is the source that crowds did not enjoy a castration as much as a hanging? And if you go to youtube, and type in "ballbusting" you'll get 100s of happy females busting male nuts. Must be some hardwired response! (~~~~)
- The eunuchs of the Chinese court
- In Darfur, My Camera Was Not Nearly Enough
- Stephen Durrant, The Cloudy Mirror: Tension and Conflict in the Writings of Sima Qian. Albany: SUNY Press, 1995.
- Katherine Amlin. Chemical Castration: The Benefits and Disadvantages Intrinsic to Injecting Male Pedophiliacs with Depo-Provera. URL accessed on 2007-06-13.
- 'Chemical castration' OK'd for Montana inmates. N.Y. Times News Service. URL accessed on 2007-06-13.
- http://www.brainphysics.com/research/ocpara_bradford99.html "THE PARAPHILIAS, OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE SPECTRUM DISORDER, AND THE TREATMENT OF SEXUALLY DEVIANT BEHAVIORS" by J. M. W. Bradford
- Sheila Jeffreys, Beauty and Misogyny: Harmful Cultural Practices in the West, pp. 165
- John Rosselli, "Castrato" article in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2001.
- "All Mouth and No Trousers" from The Guardian, Aug 5 2002.
- NPNF2-01. Eusebius Pamphilius: Church History, Life of Constantine, Oration in Praise of Constantine
- 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.
- http://www.healthandage.com/public/health-center/28/article/3047/gm=20!gid2=2824 "HRT for Men Is Risky, Too" by Robert W. Griffith
- Genetics of Boar Taint: Implications for the Future Use of Intact Males
- Genetic Inhibition of Boar Odor in Meat
- Sugar Mountain Farm: To Cut or Not?
- Teske E, Nann EC, van Dijk EM, van Garderen E, Schalken JA (2002). Canine prostate carcinoma: epidemiological evidence of an increased risk in castrated dogs. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 197 (1-2): 251–255.
- Delbridge, Arthur, The Macquarie Dictionary, 2nd ed., Macquarie Library, North Ryde, 1991
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