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Castration is an operation to remove the testes (orchiectomy). The word is also applied to other procedures which have the effect of reducing the male sex drive.

Castration has been in use in many societies throughout history, for instance eunuchs (castrated males) were employed in harems, and boys were castrated in Italy and other countries to prevent their voices breaking, so that they could sing high parts as castrati.

Castration was never regularly practiced in the UK, and indeed was illegal at one time, which placed difficulties in the way of men wishing to have sex reassignment surgery:

"[Michael] Dillon performed the initial operation on [Roberta] Cowell to remove her testicles, in 1948, which was illegal at the time."[1]

Chemical castration

Chemical castration is the use of drugs to reduce a person's sex drive, notoriously used in the case of Alan Turing.


  1. Bell, "'It's easier to change a body than to change a mind': The extraordinary life and lonely death of Roberta Cowell" Independent on Sunday 27 October 2013