Rotting until the day I am actually dead
- May 12, 2018
Most studies of castration in men have involved relatively short term experiences (usually men who had been castrated for less than a decade), but in the 20th century the effects of long term castration have been studied in three groups of men: the Skoptzy and the court eunuchs of the Chinese and Ottoman empires
Skeletal changes. Tandler and Grosz described failure of closure of the epiphyses in the skeleton of a eunuch (39) and subsequently in a 35-yr-old Ottoman eunuch who had been castrated at age 8 yr (12) Koch reported that thinning of the bones of the skull was evident by x-ray in all of the Skoptzy men examined and that kyphosis was common (Fig. 4) (13). Likewise, Wagenseil observed that 20 of the 31 Chinese eunuchs had kyphosis of the spine (Fig. 5) (18). These observations appear to have been made before it was recognized that kyphosis is a manifestation of severe osteoporosis in women (40). In the Wagenseil study, men with kyphosis averaged 59 yr of age and had an average duration of castration of 42 yr, whereas the men who did not have kyphosis were slightly younger (average age, 54 yr) and had a slightly somewhat shorter average duration of castration (33 yr) (18). Involvement of the spine is common in men with osteoporosis of various etiologies (41), and in view of the fact that bone mineral density decreases progressively with time after castration, particularly in the first few years (42), it is surprising that kyphosis was not even more common in the Chinese eunuchs and the Skoptzy. Furthermore, an increased incidence of fractures does not appear to have been reported in the eunuchs, and Wagenseil had not observed kyphosis in his earlier study of eunuchs in Istanbul (33). The reason for the discrepancy between the Turkish study and the other studies is not clear. The Turkish eunuchs were somewhat younger (average age, 44 yr), and were either Ethiopian or Sudanese in origin and might have had higher initial bone densities (43). Alternatively, osteomalacia due to vitamin D deficiency was common in Northern China in the early years of this century (44), and vitamin D deficiency might have contributed to osteopenia in the Chinese eunuchs (and possibly in the Skoptzy).
Long-Term Consequences of Castration in Men: Lessons from the Skoptzy and the Eunuchs of the Chinese and Ottoman Courts
Castration of men and males of other species was almost certainly the first experiment in endocrinology (if not in zoology), and the literature on the subject i