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Castration

Castration or gelding is any action, surgical or otherwise, by which a male loses the use of his testes. This prevents him from reproducing and from producing certain hormones such as testosterone. It should not be confused with penectomy, which is the whole or partial removal of the penis.

Castration in humans has been proposed, and sometimes used, as a method of birth control in certain poorer regions. It was, and is, frequently used in certain cultures such as in India or Africa, for religious or social reasons. People who receive this treatment are often admitted to special social classes (see: eunuch).

When women were not allowed to sing in public, castration was sometimes used on young boys to prevent the breaking of their voice (caused mainly by testosterone) and to let them develop a special high voice (see castrato).

Castration is common in zoology, where it is intended for favouring a given desired development of the animal or of its habits. Usually domestic pets are subject to castration in order to avoid sexual frustration or sexual contacts and consequent reproduction. In the food industry, cattle are often castrated in order to increase their weight (with the advantage of relevant scale economies for the breeder).

Certain animals, like horses and swine, are usually treated with a scrotal castration (which can be done with the animal standing), while others, like dogs and cats, with a pre-scrotal castration (with the animal recumbent).

A temporary chemical castration has been studied and developed as a preventive measure and punishment for several, mainly sexual, repeated crimes such as rape or other sexually related violence. Chemical or surgical castration is being discussed in many countries in particular as a voluntary surgical measure; an option for child molesters to avoid (long term) imprisonments. In the case of chemical castration, regular injections of anti-androgens would probably be required.


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