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Surgical removal of a tomcat's testicles under anesthesia

A castration (from Latin castrare 'to cut', 'emasculate', 'castrate', also 'weaken, rob') is understood to mean the removal or inactivity of the gonads (gonads) and thus the elimination of the fertility of living beings , which is a form of Results in hypogonadism . When performed surgically, it is known as a gonadectomy in medical terminology ; the removal of the testicles in men as an orchiectomy ; the removal of the ovaries in women as an oophorectomy .

The destruction of the gonadal function of ionizing radiation (X-castration, Menolyse) and the reversible suppression of hormone production by drugs ( "chemical castration", for example by the antiandrogen effective cyproterone acetate , as well as the immunocastration ) are no castration in the narrower or vernacular sense.

Bloodless castration occurs when the gonads (especially the testes) are switched off by clamping off the blood vessels supplying them ( see below ).


Voluntary castration

Of Lucian , the now classic tradition about stems Kombabus who had castrated as a travel companion of the Syrian king's wife before her own initiative.

Castrations for medical reasons were already known in ancient times. A treatment of gout by castration, which was carried out up to the 17th century, was based on a Hippocratic aphorism ("The eunuchs neither get Podagra, nor do they become bald"). Such a procedure has also been used for leprosy, epilepsy and other diseases.

Castration can be used in the treatment of prostate cancer. Since prostate carcinomas are testosterone- dependent in many cases , the removal of the testicles ( orchiectomy ) usually leads to a significant decrease or standstill of the disease , so that the patient can usually live without symptoms for years.

Forced castration

The castration or genital mutilation of men was carried out in the entire history of mankind in many peoples and cultures: on defeated enemies for humiliation and demonstration of power in order to be able to take away their wives more easily, and on slaves , especially those who were supposed to guard a harem (see eunuch ).

Adult prisoners of war or slaves were also castrated in order not only to humiliate them, but also to make them more docile, since the willingness to aggression decreases due to the loss of the testicles due to a strong reduction in testosterone .

According to various sources, the mythical Assyrian queen Semiramis is said to have been one of the first rulers to order the castration of captured enemies.

During the Yugoslav Wars, Bosnian prisoners were forced to be castrated.

Castration for religious reasons

The priests of the ancient goddess Cybele ( Galli , also Galloi ) were eunuchs. The cult had spread from Asia Minor over the entire Roman Empire . Every year at the time of the Spring Festival, lavish festivals took place in which followers of the cult mutilated themselves . They cut off their genitals with a ceremonial sword or a sharp-edged object and threw them into the crowd of spectators. The person concerned had to provide the newcomer to the eunuch with women's clothes. Many eunuch priest suffered as a result of raggedly castration under infection of the urethra and permanent incontinence .

In the Ephesian cult of Artemis there are also examples of cultic “self- emasculation ”. The origin of such castrations, carried out out of religious ideas, as they are also documented for Babylonia, Phenicia, Cyprus and Syria, was suspected to be among the Hittites.

The Bible mentions blends, for example in the book of Isaiah , chapter 56 (see also: Eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven ).

The early Christian theologian Origen is said to have emasculated himself in order to follow his interpretation of the Bible ( Mt 19.12  EU ).

According to canon 1 of the First Council of Nicaea (May 20 - July 25, 325), eunuchs could only become priests of the Roman Catholic Church if they had not castrated themselves. Pope Sixtus V decreed on June 7th, 1587 with the impotence decree that a man must have real semen, that is, from the testicles, otherwise he may not marry; thus the fertility (potentia generandi) was required for marriage.

Nevertheless, castration as a religious practice has been revived again and again, for example in the third century among the Valesians .

By decree of Pope Sixtus V of June 7th, 1587, the Roman Catholic Church grouped the following groups under the heading of "blended":

In common usage , “eunuch” is often equated with “castrato”.

In Russia and Romania , castration by the Skopzen even experienced a real boom in the 19th century .

However, there have always been cultures that strictly reject castration ; Judaism is an example ; Orthodox Jews do not castrate animals either.

Castration of children

In the Empire of China , until the founding of the Republic in 1912, boys were sold by their parents to the imperial court as palace eunuchs.

In the Middle Ages and early modern times , boys were also castrated to maintain their high voices , a practice that was still used regularly in Italy until the middle of the 19th century . Among other things, you sang as papal singers in the Sistine Choir . Starting with conservatories in Naples ( Conservatorio dei Poveri di Gesù Cristo , Conservatorio della Pietà dei Turchini , Conservatorio Sant'Onofrio and others), once custody institutions for orphaned or abandoned children, thousands of prepubescent boys were later recruited for such institutions throughout Italy year after year by buying them for a tip from eunuch traders , the so-called Mangones , from their mostly desperate parents, in order to then castrate them illegally in secret and then to train them vocal and liturgical . However, many boys did not survive the surgical procedure due to postoperative complications, as these procedures were not carried out under sterile conditions at the time and antibiotics to prevent or treat an infection were not yet known. A famous example of surviving castration and a successful career after years of vocal training is the Italian castrated singer Carlo Broschi, known as Farinelli . It was not until November 22nd, 1903, when Pope Pius X wrote in his motu proprio Tra le sollecitudini (“ On Church Music ”) that only uncastrated boys should be used for the cast of soprano and alto voices , and thus practically forbade the employment of castrati in church choirs.

In the 1950s, victims of abuse who were residents of Catholic children's homes are said to have been forced castration in the Netherlands.

Castration of homosexuals

On June 26, 1935, as a result of a change in the law for the prevention of hereditary offspring, the "criminal policy indicated castration" of homosexual men was made possible.

Chemical and surgical castration of offenders

The irreversible intervention of surgical castration was often carried out on repeatedly recidivist and otherwise beyond influence sex offenders . In Poland , convicted sex offenders can be chemically castrated since the tightening of criminal law in 2009 in order to reduce the risk that the perpetrators continue to pose. In the Czech Republic , following criticism from the Council of Europe and the tightening of the law , the surgical castration of convicted sex offenders is only possible with their consent . In the past ten years, 94 sex offenders have been surgically castrated here and more than 300 have undergone chemical castration. In North Macedonia , pedophiles who repeatedly abuse children have been chemically castrated in addition to prison sentences since 2014. In the case of first-time offenders, voluntary castration enables a shortened term of liability.

The (reversible) hormonal castration by antiandrogens is still carried out in individual states of the USA with sex offenders (with their consent).

In Germany, the Federal Constitutional Court classified the political demand for chemical castration of pedophiles in 2017 in its judgment on the second NPD ban proceedings as unconstitutional.

Castration of women

In contrast to the castration of men, the castration of women does not have a great tradition in peoples and cultures. This is due to the fact that the procedure required (opening the abdominal wall) is much more serious than for men, and was almost impossible in the past.

Measures of sexual discipline in women therefore target other practices such as circumcision , infibulation or removal of the breasts . These practices have also been documented in female Skopzen .

Medical consequences

Castration is a serious procedure with far-reaching consequences for people, both male and female . In all cases, castration leads to sterility in both sexes .

The procedure is most serious in humans if it is performed before puberty . The consequences in a boy are, for example:

These effects do not occur with castration in adulthood , since puberty is already over before the procedure. However, the possible effects include

The castration of women ( ovariectomy ) leads to the onset of menopause .

Possible consequences of castration are:

Legal framework


Castration carried out on people without consent is punishable as serious bodily harm in Germany (Section 226 of the Criminal Code ). In the case of bodily harm, however, the consent can be against common decency and therefore be meaningless for the illegality of the act. The castration of minors is prohibited (Section 1631c BGB), but is also carried out on infants and young people in the case of intersex people on the grounds of therapeutic treatment.

Voluntary castration of adults (over 25 years of age) is possible in Germany if the requirements specified in the Act on Voluntary Castration and Other Treatment Methods ( KastrG ) of August 15, 1969 are present. The person concerned must effectively consent to the castration, in the case of minors the legal representative (s ) with custody ( § 3 , § 4 Paragraph 3 CastrG), which excludes compulsory sterilization . In the case of incapable of consent , castration is also possible with the consent of the supervisor and approval of the guardianship court within the framework of this law. Castration is also possible with intersex people.

Upon request, a man can be castrated with impunity after being examined by an expert body if he suffers from an abnormal sex drive and either has committed a criminal offense or threatens to do so. A change in the “ sexual orientation ” is not expected, but rather the reduced urge or suffering to put this “sexual orientation” into practice. An alternative is a drug-based inhibition of testosterone production with antiandrogens .

Castration can mean that a sex offender who is ordered to be placed in preventive detention is no longer regarded as dangerous. Pursuant to Section 67d (2) StGB, suspension on probation can then be considered.


In Austria , castration is prohibited - except when there is a medical indication . It is also not possible to consent to it (Section 90 (3) StGB).


According to Art. 122 of the Swiss Criminal Code, castration is regarded as serious bodily harm . Castration with the consent of the person concerned can be exempt from punishment.

Castration in animal husbandry

Castration of a female cat under general anesthesia . 1 uterine horn 2 ligamentum ovarii proprium 3 ovary 4 fallopian tubes 5 mesosalpinx 6 ligamentum suspensorium ovarii 7 abdominal fat 8 surgical wound .
Tongs for castrating male lambs with a rubber ring

As a permanent form of contraception for pets, there is the option of having an animal either castrated or sterilized by the vet under general anesthesia . Castration causes changes in the animal's hormonal balance, while sterilization does not result in any hormonal changes.

The castration of bulls , which has been documented since the band ceramics , eliminated their aggressiveness and made the enormous physical strength manageable. Castration is widespread in the field of veterinary medicine . Castration used to be carried out by the so-called traveling pig tailors . Practices were used that today constitute a violation of the Animal Welfare Act .


In addition to the surgical removal of the gonads, the functional deactivation of testicular function in male animals is also referred to as castration in clinical usage. In ruminants, this can be done by squeezing the spermatic cord and thus the blood vessels of the testicle through the intact scrotum using an elastrator or Burdizzo forceps ("bloodless castration"). This method is extremely painful for the animal when performed without anesthesia.

"Hormonal castration" through the administration of gestagens is also possible. For immunocastration , boars are “vaccinated” against gonadoliberin , which temporarily leads to a reduction in testosterone production in the testes. For dogs and ferrets , treatment with Deslorelin (trade name Suprelorin ), a gonadoliberin agonist (gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist, GnRH1 agonist) has been approved in the EU since 2007 . The implant with 9.4 mg Deslorelin develops its effect after 5 to 14 weeks, which lasts for 12 months for dogs and 16 months for ferrets.

Ovariohysterectomy is often performed to castrate female animals .


This method is used in the field of farm animals to prevent changes in the taste and smell of meat caused by sex hormones or to improve slaughter performance ( boars , cattle ). To prevent changes in smell and taste in adult boars, they are castrated in Germany, while in some Scandinavian countries they are slaughtered before the onset of puberty .

Stallions are castrated in order to remove sexual characteristics of their territorial behavior and thus to change their biological social behavior in the herd. For them, castration is also known as laying . Castrated animals often have their own names such as capon ( rooster ), gelding ( stallion , donkey ), ox ( bull ), mutton (ram), borg ( boar ), gelze (sow), carved calf ( cow ), etc. A female castrated farm animal becomes also known as a nun .

The goal of neutering pets kept in the household , such as cats , dogs , ferrets , rabbits , guinea pigs , rats and others, is primarily to prevent unwanted offspring in order to avoid potential diseases and to facilitate keeping with changed social behavior.

Disadvantages of castration are a tendency to urinary incontinence , obesity , changes in character and changes in coat . Adrenal gland disease can occur in ferrets .

Non-curative, elective castrations are interventions that are performed for reasons that are not medically indicated. Such interventions are sometimes controversial from the point of view of animal welfare and also among veterinarians.

Legal situation in Germany

A castration takes place on the basis of a work contract in accordance with § 631 of the German Civil Code ( BGB ). The German Animal Welfare Act lists in Section 6 Paragraph 1 with reference to Section 5 Paragraph 3 No. 1 and 1a castration as an exception to the fundamental ban on amputation and organ removal or destruction from vertebrates , insofar as animals used or kept by humans are affected or to prevent uncontrolled reproduction.


The German family name Castritius is derived from the job title of the cattle cutter (= castrier).

See also


Web links

Commons : Castration  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: castration  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Ernst Gurlt : History of surgery and its practice; Popular surgery, antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance. Volume I, Hirschwald, Berlin 1898; Reprint: Olms, Hildesheim 1964, p. 279.
  2. ^ Friedrich Helreich : History of surgery. In: Max Neuburger , Julius Pagel (Hrsg.): Handbuch der Geschichte der Medizin (= Landmarks II ). Volume III, G. Fischer, Jena 1905, pp. 1–306; here: p. 304.
  3. Christian von Deuster: On the pathology of the human voice. Medical historical considerations on castrato singing. 2004, p. 46 f. → castration for medical reasons.
  4. Anna-Patricia Kahn: Report: “You shouldn't have any more children”. In: Focus Online . April 5, 1993. Retrieved October 14, 2018 .
  5. ^ Franz Haböck : The castrati and their singing art, a singing physiological, cultural and music historical study. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart / Berlin / Leipzig 1927, p. 19.
  6. Peter Browe : On the history of emasculation. A study of religious and legal history (= Breslau studies on historical theology. New series, Volume 1). Müller & Seiffert, Breslau 1936, p. 13 f.
  7. Christian von Deuster: On the pathology of the human voice. Medical historical considerations on castrato singing. 2004, p. 45 f. → Castration for religious reasons.
  8. Uta Ranke-Heinemann: Eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven . Complete Paperback edition, 5th edition, Droemer Knaur, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-426-04079-4 , p. 258 ff.
  9. Susan Tuchel: Castration in the Middle Ages (= Studia humaniora. Volume 30). Droste, Düsseldorf 1998, ISBN 3-7700-0835-9 .
  10. Uta Ranke-Heinemann: Eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven . Munich 1996, p. 263.
  11. Video Stefan Schneider & Cristina Trebbi: Victims and Seducers, German / Italian TV documentary, ZDF, August 6, 2010, 11:45 p.m.  in the ZDFmediathek , accessed on February 2, 2014. (offline)
  12. Tra le sollecitudini. - Paragraph: V Cantori. ( The Singers ) / 13; On: ; last accessed on February 23, 2016.
  13. Doris Simon: Forced castration by the church? In the Netherlands, the judiciary is examining shocking allegations . On: of April 18, 2012; accessed on April 14, 2020.
  14. Timeline of Nazi persecution, the Holocaust, forced labor and life after survival (DPs) / 1935 On: geschichte-am-jü ; accessed on April 14, 2020.
  15. SPIEGEL Online: Poland decides to chemical castration of pedophiles (from October 25, 2009)
  16. Deutschlandradio Kultur: The Czech Republic has sex offenders castrated . Posted on June 16, 2011.
  17. ^ Deutsches Ärzteblatt: Council of Europe denounces castration of sex offenders in the Czech Republic ( Memento of February 7, 2009 in the Internet Archive ). On: of February 5, 2009.
  18. a b Macedonia punishes child molesters with castration , , February 5, 2014.
  19. ^ Judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court of January 17, 2017
  20. Ernst Hafter: Swiss criminal law: special part. First half: Offenses against life and limb, against freedom, against sex, against honor, against wealth . Springer-Verlag, March 9, 2013, ISBN 978-3-642-51835-5 , p. 40.
  21. Pet magazine: should I neuter or neuter my dog?
  22. Manfred Schmitzberger: Domestic and hunting animals in the Neolithic of the Austrian Danube region. Dissertation, University of Vienna, Vienna 2009, p. 97 ( full text as PDF file ).
  23. Hanns Hermann Müller: The Pets of the Central German Band Ceramics (= scientific contributions to prehistory. Part 1 .; German Academy of Sciences in Berlin .; Writings of the section for prehistory and early history. Volume 17) German Academy of Sciences, Berlin 1964.
  24. German Animal Welfare Association: Piglet castration
  25. ^ German Bundestag: Coalition wants to allow piglet castration without anesthesia for two years longer
  26. Improvac. Retrieved from : (Veterinary Medicines Compendium of Switzerland) ( Memento from February 4, 2014 in the Internet Archive ): June 24, 2012.
  27. ^ European Medicines Agency: Suprelorin - Deslorelin ( Memento from May 23, 2016 in the Internet Archive ). EMA / 310418/2007
  28. Veterinary Association for Animal Welfare : New leaflet "Castration of dogs and cats". dated April 9, 2009 ( full text as PDF file; 35 kB ( Memento from March 10, 2016 in the Internet Archive ))