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Penectomy is the practice of surgical removal of the penis. Ignorance of medicine causes many to believe that genital reassignment procedures for anatomical males involves "chopping off the penis." While removal of erectile tissue is a part of reassignment surgery this does not mean complete removal of the penis as a whole.

In medicine and psychology

  • Cancer of the penis sometimes necessitates removal of all or part of the penis.[1] In very rare instances, botched circumcisions have also resulted in full or partial penectomies, as with David Reimer. Celibacy is an exceptionally rare ground for penectomy.
  • Genital surgical procedures for trans women undergoing sex reassignment surgery do not usually involve the complete removal of the penis. Instead, part or all of the glans is usually kept and reshaped as a clitoris, while the skin of the penile shaft may also be inverted to form the vagina in a typical inversion procedure. When procedures such as this are not possible, other procedures such as colovaginoplasty are used for the vaginal vault leaving the penile skin for other uses if present.
  • Issues related to the removal of the penis appear in psychology, in the form of "castration anxiety" or anxiety over fertility. Criminal psychology, particularly in cases of spousal assault, has special symbolic significance. Due to the association of the penis with rape, (male) dominance and aggression, the assault victim may consciously or subconsciously see it as a weapon and express a hatred for it. There is some potential for those who have hatred for the symbology the penis has, to either desire harm or attempt to commit violent acts on male persons.
  • Some men have undergone penectomies as a voluntary body modification, but professional opinion is divided as to whether or not the desire for penile amputation is a pathology, thus including it as part of a body dysmorphic disorder, much as all other forms of treatment by amputation for body dysmorphic disorder.
  • Males who consider themselves third sex will sometimes want a demasculinization, i.e. they opt to be castrated and penectomized.

Involuntary penis removal (assault)

There have been incidents in which men have been assaulted, usually by their sexual partners, by having their penises severed. Lorena Bobbitt, for example, was popularly known for cutting off the penis of her husband, John Wayne Bobbitt, out of rage after he allegedly raped her, though he claimed it was for revenge when she discovered his infidelity. Bobbitt's penis was successfully reattached, and he later had a brief career in pornographic movies.

This was not the first modern case, however. On May 18, 1936, Sada Abe (also known as Abe Sada) strangled her lover (believed to be at his request, he wanted to die while having sex) Kichizo Ishida (Ishida Kichizo) and cut off his penis, placed it in her kimono and carried it around with her for days before eventually turning it over to the police. She spent a very brief time in jail, and was granted amnesty in 1940. The penis was last seen at a department store exhibition in 1949. This episode was the basis of the film In the Realm of the Senses.


In ancient civilizations, removal of the human penis was sometimes used as a means of demonstrating superiority: armies were sometimes known to sever the penises of their enemies to count the dead, as well as for trophies, although usually only the foreskins were taken.[2] The practice of castration (removal of the testicles) sometimes also involves 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 (and especially harem-keepers) called eunuchs (Greek: Ευνούχοι) in many different places and eras. In Italy, it was used to preserve the pure, high voices of young male singers, who were known as castrati.

In the modern era, removal of the human penis is very rare (with some exceptions), and references to removal of the penis are almost always symbolic. Removal of the testes is performed as a treatment of androgen sensitive prostate cancer in cases where hormone blocking therapy is not adviced.[3][4][5]

In addition to the below examples, there have been instances in the 21st century in which captives in the Iraq war and Yemen have been castrated.[6][7]

Historic cases

  • The first documented case of a completely successful penis replantation, restoring full function, was performed at Massachusetts General Hospital by a team led by Dr. Hugh H. Young II, with fellow urologist Dr. John F.S. Daly and plastic surgeons Dr. Benjamin E. Cohen and Dr. James W. May. The case is documented in the February 1977 issue of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons journal, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
  • On September 20, 2005, the first successful penis transplant was begun in a military hospital in Guangzhou, China. A 44-year-old man had sustained an injury that severed his penis in an accident. Despite atrophy of blood vessels and nerves after a protracted period of time had elapsed, the arteries, veins, nerves and the corpora spongiosa were successfully matched. After seven hours' surgery, the penis regained its function and even managed to attain erection. The extent to which the penis' function was restored and occurrence of rejection or infection remain to be seen.[9]

See also


  1. Korets R, Koppie TM, Snyder ME, Russo P (2007). "Partial penectomy for patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the penis: the memorial sloan-kettering experience". Ann. Surg. Oncol. 14 (12): 3614–9. doi:10.1245/s10434-007-9563-9. PMID 17896151.
  2. See an example of this in the story of David's courtship of Saul's daughter in 1 Samuel 18:25-27; Then Saul said, “Thus shall you say to David, ‘The king desires no bride-price except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, that he may be avenged of the king's enemies.’”
  3. Loblaw, DA; Mendelson DS, Talcott JA, Virgo KS, et al. (2004-07-15). "American Society of Clinical Oncology recommendations for the initial hormonal management of androgen-sensitive metastatic, recurrent, or progressive prostate cancer". Journal of Clinical Oncology. PMID 15184404. Retrieved on 2007-01-11.
  4. Terris, Martha K; Audrey Rhee, et al. (2006-08-01). Prostate Cancer: Metastatic and Advanced Disease. eMedicine. Retrieved on 2007-01-11.
  5. Myers, Charles E (2006-08-24). Androgen Resistance, Part 1. Prostate Cancer Research Institute. Retrieved on 2007-01-11.
  6. Worth, Robert F., and Marshall, Carolyn, "G.I. Crime Photos May Be Evidence," The New York Times, August 5, 2006, accessed October 20, 2009
  7. Judd, Alan, "Our soldiers are mortals who will suffer, not superheroes," Telegraph, October 7, 2001, accessed October 20, 2009
  8. Colapinto, John. "Gender Gap: What were the real reasons behind David Reimer's suicide?",, 2004-06-03. Retrieved on 2007-01-11. 
  9. "世界首例异体阴茎移植成功 40岁患者数周后出院", (Chinese), 2005-09-22. Retrieved on 2007-01-11. 

External links


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