What is castration?
Castration is the act of removing an individual’s use of the testicles by means of surgery or the use of chemicals. Surgical castration is bilateral orchiectomy (excision of both testes), and chemical castration uses pharmaceutical drugs to deactivate the testes. Castration causes sterilization (preventing them from reproducing); it also greatly reduces the production of certain hormones, such as testosterone.
Types of castration
There are two types of approaches to castration. That is, chemical and surgical.
- Surgical castration, also called orchiectomy, involves the physical removal of the testicles, which produce 95 percent of a man’s testosterone. However, the small amount still produced by the adrenal glands could be enough to allow some sexual function to remain.
- Chemical castration is meant to suppress the sex drive of male sex offenders by lowering their testosterone levels. The drug does not render any permanent physical change to the body. The treatment is believed to be most effective on sex offenders who possess uncontrollable biological urges that take the form of sexual fantasies that are usually satisfied by acting on the fantasy.
What does it do?
Both chemical castration and surgical castration greatly reduce the amount of androgens (male sex hormone) produced by the body. However, physiological health is greatly altered caused by various side effects as listed by the National Cancer Institute:
- Loss of interest in sex (lowered libido)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Hot flashes
- Loss of bone density
- Bone fractures
- Loss of muscle mass and physical strength
- Changes in blood lipids
- Insulin resistance
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Growth of breast tissue (gynecomastia)
Castration as cancer treatment
According to Cancer.net, castration could be a better option for some men with metastatic prostate cancer. Candidates for castration treatment are intermediate-risk and high-risk prostate cancer patients who are having definitive therapy with radiation therapy.
Castration as punishment
Castration has been used by psychiatrists and mandated by 8 states in the United States to treat some sex offenders.