One of the most heavily debated topics of all time, chemical castration made headlines worldwide when it was suggested to be included in the anti-rape laws by the Parliament. What is chemical castration you ask? Or are you intrigued to know why it is such a debatable topic and what are all the controversies behind this treatment? Then continue reading the article as we delve deeper into the topic and try to solve all your queries.
What is chemical castration?
Before stating why there are so many controversies regarding chemical castration, we need to know all the nitty-gritty of the treatment first.
According to medical terminology, chemical castration is a medical treatment whose purpose is to lower the male hormones or androgens in the body.
Testosterone and dihydrotestosterone are the main androgens to be known and according to scientific studies and reports, 95℅ of male hormones are produced in the testicles and the rest comes from the adrenal glands. Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) secreted from the pituitary gland is the hormone which stimulates the testicles to produce testosterone and here is where the castrating agents or LHRH agonists come into play.
The treatment of castration involves LHRH agonists which cause the luteinizing hormones to increase in the body. When the levels of luteinizing hormones are higher in the bloodstream, the pituitary gland stops instructing testicles to produce androgens in the system which causes the decrease in the levels of the circulating testosterone in the process.
Some of the most common LHRH agonists used are goserelin, histrelin, leuprolide and triptorelin.
What are the benefits of chemical castration?
Chemical castration was initially introduced to treat hormone-dependent cancers especially if the diagnosis is done at the initial stages.
Chemical castration is effective for hormone-dependent cancers like prostate cancer and availing this treatment regularly helps in slowing the growth of the cancerous cells and metastasis. However, with all that being said, there need to be more studies done to completely solidify the claim. Moreover, it was observed that the treatment is not a one-time solution to the problem. The effect of chemical castration lasts as long as you continue to take or inject the drugs and once you end the treatments, the hormone levels return to normal and thus effects of chemical castration created become reversible.
Apart from using chemical castration on males, there have also been several reports of using chemical castration as a form of treatment on females who have exceedingly high levels of testosterone hormones in their system.
What is the difference between chemical castration and surgical castration?
And one other common mistake that people generally make regarding chemical castration is that they often confuse chemical castration with surgical castration. Chemical castration involves medications, injections or implants to affect the hormone levels in your body but it does not produce any change in the appearance of testicles. However, if you have been undergoing chemical castration for long, you would be slowly observing your testicles shrinking in size over time. But as already mentioned, the effects can be easily reversed as soon as you stop taking the treatments.
One the other hand, surgical castration is exactly opposite to chemical castration in terms of effects and reversibility of the treatment produced. Surgical castration or orchiectomy is the procedure that involves removal of one or both of the testicles and it cannot be reversed. There is also an option of subcapsular orchiectomy that involves the only removal of the tissue that causes the production of the androgens in the body.
Keep in mind that both chemical and surgical castration provides drastic changes to the body of applied and therefore make sure to weigh both the benefits and side effects before you avail the treatments
Side effects of chemical castration
Now coming to the side effects of chemical castration. It was observed that Initial stages of prostate cancer can be ameliorated with the help of chemical castration but during further studies, it was found that there were several side effects associated with the methods of the treatment.
Some of the most common side effects noticed are
- Reduction or absence of sexual desires
- Erectile dysfunction or shrinkage of testicles
- Hot flashes and fatigue
If chemical castration is availed for a long term, it can lead to osteoporosis, depression, infertility, hormonal imbalances, weight gain, muscle mass loss or other chronic ailments.
Controversies regarding chemical castration
We have seen one of the potential effects of chemical castration is reduction in sexual desires and this was the reason for several countries including the United States to include chemical castration as a treatment for people who were convicted for sexual violence. It was touted to be an effective punishment to be used against paedophiles.
However, there are several inconveniences associated with the treatment. The effect that the chemical castration provides as it claims to have not been solidified and furthermore, chemical castration needs to be continued for a long period of time if it has to be inculcated as a punishment for sexual offenders. And also we have to keep in mind that there is a very thin line between overtreatment and punishment and making chemical castration legal can lead to complex problems in the future.
And that’s not only the controversies related to chemical castration treatment, there are many shocking revelations too. Do you know, through an interview to the famous The Sun magazine, Late Michael Jackson’s doctor made a sensational claim that MJ’s dad Joe chemically castrated his son to maintain his voice. Quite shocking right? Well is it true or just a rumour, we would never know, but this controversy did shake up the industry for quite a bit.
Also, it was reported that famous mathematician Alan Turing who is also known as the father of modern computing was also subjected to chemical castration as a punishment for homosexuality in 1952.
Now there you go, everything you need to know about chemical castration. It is advisable from us, that if you or someone else wants to avail the chemical castration, you should weigh both the benefits and side effects of treatment and take the proper decision only after consulting your professional medical advisor.
And regarding the treatment being beneficial to be used against sexual offenders, we can only say there should be more studies regarding the use of the method as a form of punishment and there should be more guidelines and regulations revolving around the proper use of the method.