Penis removal

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In ancient civilizations, the removal of the human penis was sometimes used to demonstrate superiority or dominance over an enemy. Armies were sometimes known to sever the penises of their enemies to count the dead, as well as for trophies.[citation needed] The practice of castration (removal of the testicles) sometimes involved the removal of all or part of the penis, generally with a tube inserted to keep the urethra open for urination. Castration has been used to create a class of servants or slaves called eunuchs in many different places and eras.

In Russia, men of a devout group of Spiritual Christians known as the Skoptsy were castrated, either undergoing "greater castration", which entailed removal of the penis, or "lesser castration", in which the penis remained in place, while Skoptsy women underwent mastectomy. These procedures were performed in an effort to eliminate lust and to restore the Christian to a pristine state that existed prior to original sin.

In the modern era, removing the human penis for any such activity is very rare (with some exceptions listed below), and references to removal of the penis are almost always symbolic. Castration is less rare, and is performed as a last resort in the treatment of androgen-sensitive prostate cancer.[1][2][3]

Penis removal in medicine and psychology[edit]

Some men have penile amputations, known as penectomies, for medical reasons. Cancer, for example, sometimes necessitates removal of all or part of the penis. In some instances, botched childhood circumcisions have also resulted in full or partial penectomies.[4] A man who has his penis removed may have one or more problems with his personality, urination, sex life, and vulnerable testicles; he may also experience a phantom penis (see phantom limb).[5][better source needed]

Genital surgical procedures for transgender women undergoing sex reassignment surgery do not usually involve the complete removal of the penis; part or all of the glans is usually kept and reshaped as a clitoris, and the skin of the penile shaft may also be inverted to form the vagina. When procedures such as this are not possible, other procedures such as colovaginoplasty are used which do involve the removal of the penis.

Issues related to the removal of the penis appear in psychology, for example in the condition known as castration anxiety.

Some men have undergone penectomies as a voluntary body modification, thus including it as part of a body dysmorphic disorder. Professional opinion is divided regarding the desire for penile amputation as a pathology, much as all other forms of treatment by amputation for body dysmorphic disorder. Voluntary subincision, removal of the glans penis, and bifurcation of the penis are related topics.

History of involuntary penis removal[edit]


In ancient China, for crimes including adultery, "licentious" and "promiscuous" activity, males had their penises removed in addition to being castrated. This was one of the Five Punishments that could be legally inflicted on criminals in China.[6] The exact crime was called gong, and referred to "immoral" sex between males and females. The punishment stated, "If a male and female engage in intercourse without morality, their punishments shall be castration and sequestration [respectively]."[7] They were designed to permanently disfigure for life.[8] "Castration", in China, meant the severing of the penis in addition to the testicles, after which male offenders were sentenced to work in the palace as eunuchs. The punishment was called gōngxíng (宫刑), which meant "palace punishment", since castrated men would be enslaved to work in the harem of the palace. It was also called "fǔxíng"(腐刑).[9] Husbands who committed adultery were punished with castration as required under this law.[10]


The removal of the penis was used as a punishment for men in the Heian period in Japan, where it replaced execution. It was called rasetsu 羅切 (らせつ), and was separate from castration which was called kyūkei 宮刑 (きゅうけい).[11][12] Rasetsu was done voluntarily by some Japanese Buddhist priests to ensure celibacy.[13][14] Rasetsu was also known in Edo period Japan.[15]

The word rasetsu was made out of the components "ra" from "mara" which meant penis, and "setsu", which meant cutting.[16][17]

The word rasetsu was used in Japanese literature.[18]

Kyūkei in Japanese law referred to the punishment of castration, which was used for male offenders, and confinement for females.[19][20][21][22][23][24]

Arab slave trade[edit]

The Arab slave trade provided many eunuchs who were more highly prized, and priced. African boys were generally subject to penis removal, as well as castration.[25]

Treatment and effects of penis removal[edit]

A study of penis reattachment in China found that in a group of 50 men, all but one reacquired functionality, even though some involved full reconstructive surgery using tissue and bone. Reportedly, some of these men later fathered children.[26]


If reattachment is not an option (such as the penis not being reattached long after 24 hours),[27][5] doctors can reconstruct a penis from muscle and skin grafted from another part of the body like the forearm. However, a penile implant is needed for an erection to be possible, as the reconstructed penis would look strange and would either not be able to ejaculate,[28][29] or ejaculate with less force.[27] Patients are often dissatisfied with the reconstructed penis.[30] Since 2015, Zephyr Surgical Implants produces malleable and inflatable penile implants particularly designed for phalloplasty surgeries.[31] Standing during urination is an advantage offered by a reconstructed penis.[32] If penis reconstruction is not done, the patient will have to squat in order to urinate since doctors reroute the entrance of the urethra to below the scrotum.[28]

Penis transplantation[edit]

In the 21st-century, successful allographic penis transplantation surgery began.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Loblaw, DA; Mendelson DS; Talcott JA; et al. (July 15, 2004). "American Society of Clinical Oncology recommendations for the initial hormonal management of androgen-sensitive metastatic, recurrent, or progressive prostate cancer". Journal of Clinical Oncology. 22 (14): 2927–41. doi:10.1200/JCO.2004.04.579. PMID 15184404. S2CID 20462746.
  2. ^ Terris, Martha K; Audrey Rhee; et al. (August 1, 2006). "Prostate Cancer: Metastatic and Advanced Disease". eMedicine. Retrieved January 11, 2007.
  3. ^ Myers, Charles E (August 24, 2006). "Androgen Resistance, Part 1". Prostate Cancer Research Institute. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2007.
  4. ^ Colapinto, John (December 11, 1997). "The True Story of John/Joan". Rolling Stone. pp. 54–97. Archived from the original on January 20, 2009. Retrieved February 22, 2010.
  5. ^ a b "6 Things I Learned Having My Penis Surgically Removed". May 31, 2015.
  6. ^ Lalor, John Joseph (1882). Cyclopaedia of political science, political economy, and of the political history of the United States, Volume 1. Rand, McNally. p. 406. ISBN 9780598866110.
  7. ^ Sommer, Matthew Harvey (2002). A Sex, Law, and Society in Late Imperial China. Stanford University Press. p. 33. ISBN 0804745595.
  8. ^ Ibsch, Elrud & Fokkema, Douwe Wessel (2000). The conscience of humankind: literature and traumatic experiences. Rodopi. p. 176. ISBN 9042004207.
  9. ^ Hodgson, Dorothy Louise (2001). Gendered modernities: ethnographic perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 250. ISBN 0312240139.
  10. ^ Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. China Branch (1895). Journal of the China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society for the year ..., Volumes 27–28. The Branch. p. 160.
  11. ^ Gill, Robin D. (2007). The Woman Without a Hole – & Other Risky Themes from Old Japanese Poems (illustrated ed.). Paraverse Press. p. 202. ISBN 978-0974261881.
  12. ^ Gill, Robin D. (2007). Octopussy, Dry Kidney & Blue Spots – Dirty Themes from 18-19c Japanese Poems (illustrated ed.). Paraverse Press. p. 202. ISBN 978-0974261850.
  13. ^ Constantine, P. (1994). Japanese Slang Uncensored. Tuttle Publishing. pp. 83, 164. ISBN 4900737038.
  14. ^ Wood, Michael S. (2009). Literary Subjects Adrift: A Cultural History of Early Modern Japanese Castaway Narratives, Ca. 1780—1880. University of Oregon. p. 330. ISBN 978-1109119787.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Moerman, D. Max (2009). "Demonology and Eroticism Islands of Women in the Japanese Buddhist Imagination" (PDF). Japanese Journal of Religious Studies. Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture. 36 (2): 351–380 (375). JSTOR 40660972. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 11, 2011. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
  16. ^ Faure, Bernard (1998). The Red Thread: Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality (reprint ed.). Princeton University Press. p. 35. ISBN 0691059977.
  17. ^ Faure, Bernard (1998). The Red Thread: Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality (PDF) (reprint ed.). Princeton University Press. p. 35. ISBN 0691059977.
  18. ^ Gill, Robin D. (2009). A Dolphin in the Woods: Composite Translation, Paraversing and Distilling Prose (illustrated ed.). Paraverse Press. p. 181. ISBN 978-0984092314.
  19. ^ Meaning of 宮刑 in Japanese. RomajiDesu Japanese dictionary
  20. ^ 宮刑 – English translation. Japanese-English dictionary
  21. ^ 宮刑 in English translated from Japanese Archived April 6, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Vocing
  22. ^ Japanese Vocabulary » 宮刑 on January 1, 2010 (January 1, 2010). "Japanese Vocabulary: 宮刑 » SayJack". Retrieved March 17, 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  23. ^ Definition for: 宮刑[permanent dead link]. 2000 Kanji: A Japanese Dictionary
  24. ^ 宮刑. Tangorin Japanese Dictionary
  25. ^ Murray Gordon (1989). Slavery in the Arab World. Companions to Asian Studies. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 96. ISBN 9780941533300.
  26. ^ HEALTH CARE IN CHINA-TRANSPLANTS AND DRUGS – China | Facts and Details
  27. ^ a b Conley, Mikaela (July 12, 2011). "Wife Chops Off Husband's Penis, Throws in Garbage Disposal". ABC news. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
  28. ^ a b Rettner, Rachael (July 13, 2011). "Man's Penis Cut Off By Wife: How Could Doctors Make a New One?". MyHealthNewsDaily. Archived from the original on January 4, 2013. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
  29. ^ Rettner, Rachael (July 13, 2011). "Man's Penis Cut Off By Wife: How Could Doctors Make a New One?". Live Science. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
  30. ^ Maugh, Thomas H. II (July 15, 2011). "There are options for penis repair after mutilation". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
  31. ^ Pigot, Garry L.S.; Sigurjónsson, Hannes; Ronkes, Brechje; Al-Tamimi, Muhammed; van der Sluis, Wouter B. (January 2020). "Surgical Experience and Outcomes of Implantation of the ZSI 100 FtM Malleable Penile Implant in Transgender Men After Phalloplasty". The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 17 (1): 152–158. doi:10.1016/j.jsxm.2019.09.019. PMID 31680006. S2CID 207890601.
  32. ^ "SCIENCE WATCH; Sexual Organ Surgery". The New York Times. March 14, 1989. Retrieved April 5, 2013.