Castration, gelding, neutering, orchiectomy or orchidectomy is any
action, surgical or otherwise, by which a male loses the use of his
testes. This causes sterilization, i.e. prevents them from
reproducing; it also prevents the production of certain hormones such
The term "castration" is sometimes also used to refer to the
removal of the ovaries in the female, otherwise known as an
oophorectomy or, in animals, spaying.
Castration in humans has been proposed, and sometimes used, as a
method of birth control in certain poorer regions.
Surgical removal of a testicle is done in the case of testicular
cancer. Surgical removal of both testicles or chemical castration may
be carried out in the case of prostate cancer, as hormone treatment to
slow down the cancer.
A subject of castration who is castrated before the onset of
puberty will retain their high voice, slight build and small genitals,
won't develop pubic hair, and will have a small or no sex drive.
Castrations after the onset of puberty will typically reduce the
sex drive considerably, or eliminate it altogether. Castrates can
however still have erections, orgasms and ejaculations. The voice will
normally 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 may or may not decrease.
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Generally speaking, the effects of a chemical castration (where the
action of male hormones is countered by drugs) are more severe than
the effects of surgical castration because about 10 percent of a
male's testosterone is produced by the adrenal glands (near the
kidneys) and not by the testes. Therefore, a chemical castration
effectively removes all testosterone in a subject while physical
castration results in a ninety percent reduction, but not a total lack
of testosterone in the body.