Surgical castration is a procedure where the testes in a male are removed surgically, thereby resulting in permanent loss of sexual function. It is used in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer, cancer of the testes as well as severe injury to the testes.
Surgical castration has been often carried out in history. It has been a form of punishment for rapists, homosexuals, as well as for prisoners of war. There has been a renewed demand in the recent past to introduce surgical castration in sexual offenders including rapists. However, most countries have given up surgical castration for habitual sexual offenders and opt for voluntary medical castration instead.
During surgical castration, a small incision is made in the scrotum under anesthesia and the testes are removed. Sometimes, prostheses are placed in the scrotum to replace the testes. Following surgical castration, due to removal of testes, the person cannot father any children. Due to lack of testosterone following the procedure, the person loses sexual drive. However, it has been observed that the sexual drive is not lost immediately in all those castrated. Also, the sexual drive can be restored by taking testosterone injection. Thus, surgical castration may not be the treatment of choice in habitual sexual offenders.
Side effects of the procedure include:
Changes in physical appearance: The person loses body hair and the skin softens akin to that in females. The body weight may increase.
Changes in organs: The calcium content of the bones may reduce; the hemoglobin levels in the blood may come down; proteins from the body may be lost.
Psychological effects: Perhaps the most disastrous effects following surgical castration take place on the psychology of the person. The person may get depressed and even attempt suicide.
Surgical castration is thus a permanent procedure, which not only affects the sexual function of a male, but also causes changes in the appearance and important parts of the body. Its use in habitual sexual offenders raises ethical issues. On the other hand, the use of medical castration which causes temporary effects may be more justifiable in these cases.