Chemical castration

Chemical castration

Chemical castration is a form of castration caused by hormonal medication. It is used mainly by countries as a preventive measure or punishment on people who violate their laws on sexual behavior, for example those who have committed rape or child sexual abuse or who are homosexual (as in the case of mathematician Alan Turing). It has also been used by eugenicists as a means of preventing people the government deems inferior from breeding, and was practiced in many states during the twentieth century.

Historical use

During the Third Reich, experimental procedures involving injection of chemicals, hormones and mutative radiation techniques, such as intentionally exposing individuals’ genitals to X-Ray, were employed by the Nazis as a form of racial sterilisation. Individuals deemed "undesirable" or "subhuman" (untermensch) were subjected to such processes. Concentration camps including Auschwitz were places of abundant human specimens that the Nazis used to experiment different techniques in order to successfully and calculatedly sterilise swathes of the "undesirables" in the wider German population. Examples of the drugs the nazis used on individuals are formalin, novacain, progynon, and prolusion.

Chemical castration in the United States

At least six states in the United States (California, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, and Montana) have experimented with chemical castration laws, according to Jeffrey Kirchmeier California was the first state to use chemical castration as a punishment for sex offenders. In cases in which the victim is under 13 years of age, California judges may require first-time offenders to undergo chemical castration. After a second offense, treatment is mandatory. In Iowa and Florida, offenders may be sentenced to chemical castration in all cases involving serious sex offenses. As in California, treatment is mandatory after a second offense. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed Senate Bill 144 June 25, 2008, allowing Louisiana judges to sentence convicted rapists to chemical castration. Depo-Provera, a progestin, is a drug that is sometimes used on sex offenders, as is medroxyprogesterone.


Though generally considered more humane than surgical castration, chemical castration has attracted a number of critics.

The American Civil Liberties Union opposes the coerced administration of any drug, including antiandrogen drugs for sex offenders. They argued in 1997 that forced chemical castration was a "cruel and unusual punishment", and thereby constitutionally prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. They also stated that it interfered with sex offenders' "right to procreate", and could expose users to various health problems.

Large doses are required to be effective in men. Most men will receive 400mg to 500mg per week. In some cases, men given oral doses as high as 700 mg/day have still reported regular sexual arousal and fantasies.

Side effects

The use of Depo-Provera can cause several side effects including weight gain, fatigue, thromboembolism, malaise, hypertension, mild depression, hypoglycemia and rare changes in liver enzymes.

In addition to ethical concerns, chemical castration may increase blood pressure in males, sometimes to dangerous levels. Chemical castration may sometimes cause gynecomastia, a side effect that is sometimes treated with tamoxifen, a SERM. Other side effects, such as the formation of abnormal fat deposits in the liver, are being investigated.


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