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What Is a Penis Removal?

By Soo Owens
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Penis removal refers to the act or process of severing the penis from a male’s body. The penis may be removed for medical reasons, such as cancer. A transsexual or transgendered individual may wish to have his penis surgically removed in sexual reassignment surgery. Cases have been documented in which the penis was removed involuntarily through some form of personal assault. Penis removal is rare in nearly all modern societies.

The medical term for surgical removal of the penis is penectomy. The most common medical reasons for performing a penectomy are penile cancer and injury to a child’s penis during circumcision. Penile cancer is an uncommon occurrence in North America and Europe, but in Africa and South America, penile cancer makes up nearly 10% of all cancers developed by men. On rare occasions, a childhood circumcision can result in a serious deformity that renders the penis almost useless. In severe cases, the only medical option may be penis removal.

A penectomy may be either partial or radical, depending on the severity of the condition. A partial penectomy can be undertaken to save part of the penis, with only some portions, usually the tip or glans, requiring removal. A radical penectomy removes the entire penis. In such cases, the entire shaft of the penis is removed, and a tube is inserted into the male urethra at the torso to aid in urination.

Transsexual women, individuals who were born into the male sex but who identify themselves with the female gender, may pursue sexual reassignment surgery. The operations required for this procedure are numerous, but eventually, a penectomy is undertaken. This type of penis removal is most often partial, as the surgeons do not completely remove the organ, but reshape it into the desired female anatomy.

During penectomies for sexual reassignment, the shaft of the penis is inverted to create a vagina, while the glans of the penis is formed into a fully functioning clitoris. The urethra is displaced into its anatomically correct female position. In rare cases, a radical penectomy may be necessary due to medical complications.

Cases of assault, in which the penis is removed involuntarily by force, have been reported. Often the motive of forced penis removal is said to be revenge or a desire to see the male emasculated. Some conquering armies in ancient times were reported to have cut the penises off their subjugated foes. It may have been done either to assess the total losses of the opposing side or to collect a trophy.

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Discussion Comments

By clintflint — On Sep 08, 2014

@pastanaga - I really wish people wouldn't fetishize the penis so much though. Those same people who freak out over penis curses might not blink when it comes to putting their daughters under the knife for female genital mutilation.

And it makes it that much harder for people who need gender reassignment surgery to get it done, because everyone thinks it's such an insane decision and something that should never be done.

But it's just genitals and people should be able to make the decision to change them if they want. No one cares if someone changes the shape of their nose, and it's essentially the same thing. It's only because we've attached all this extra meaning to that particular kind of protrusion that there is so much interference in what should be a personal decision.

By pastanaga — On Sep 08, 2014

@umbra21 - I've never really thought of that. I think most men see the penis as the seat of masculinity, but really it's the testicles that regulate all the hormones and things like that.

I spent some time in West Africa as an aid worker and one of the urban legends that was going around at the time was a story about a woman cursing a man so that his penis disappeared.

It was told in whispers and considered to be almost a fate worse than death, and I guess that most penis removal stories are supposed to inspire that kind of dread.

I can remember one of the men who told me about it exclaiming that he'd rather lose a hand than get cursed like that, because at least he has two hands!

By umbra21 — On Sep 07, 2014

I always thought that back when eunuchs were more common, they would just remove the testicles from boys in order to prevent them going through puberty. But apparently the term was also applied to boys or men who had the whole penis removed.

Hopefully in most cases where this happened, they removed the testicles as well, since I can't imagine how much worse the aftermath of penis removal surgery (or whatever passed for it back then) would be if you still had the hormones and inclinations that testicles provide, but no means to act on them.

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