Castration (also known as gonadectomy) is any action, surgical, chemical, or otherwise, by which an individual loses use of the testicles.Surgical castration is bilateral orchiectomy (excision of both testes), and chemical castration uses pharmaceutical drugs to inactivate the testes.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.Estrogen levels drop precipitously following oophorectomy, and long-term effects of the reduction of sex hormones are significant throughout the body.Castrated men — eunuchs – were often admitted to special social classes and were used particularly to staff bureaucracies and palace households: in particular, the harem.Castration also figured in a number of religious castration cults.Castration was frequently used for religious or social reasons in certain cultures in Europe, South Asia, Africa, and East Asia.
Surgical castration in animals is often called neutering.
Testosterone-depletion treatment (either surgical removal of both testicles or chemical castration) is used to slow down the cancer, greatly reduce sex drive or interest in those with sexual drives, obsessions, or behaviors, or any combination of those that may be considered deviant.
Other religions, such as Judaism, were strongly opposed to the practice.
The Leviticus Holiness code, for example, specifically excludes eunuchs or any males with defective genitals from the priesthood, just as castrated animals are excluded from sacrifice.
Eunuchs in China had been known to usurp power in many eras of Chinese history, most notably in the Later Han, late Tang and late Ming Dynasty. In ancient times, castration often involved the total removal of all the male genitalia.
This involved great danger of death due to bleeding or infection and, in some states, such as the Byzantine Empire, was seen as the same as a death sentence. Either surgical removal of both testicles or chemical castration may be carried out in the case of prostate cancer.