Medical Q&As

Orchidectomy - why was it done?

My brother is developmentally disabled. When he was 11 years old he had a complete orchidectomy. He is now 43 years old and his penis is like a little boy. He has never had any sexual feelings and he grew breasts like a woman (which were removed). Does he produce female hormones? Does he have any testosterone? Is he susceptible to female problems like osteoporosis? Why would a doctor remove healthy testicles? I have the lab report and it said they were healthy. What kinds of problems can he have because of this? He lives with me now because our parents are too old to take care of him.

I cannot give you a comprehensive answer to your question because your query does not contain a diagnosis of your brotherís condition. It would be unwise of me to engage in speculation about the reasons for his orchidectomy because such speculation could be very wide of the mark. Presumably your brother is under long term care and it should be possible to get further information on the reasons for the orchidectomy from the doctor he attends. Since the testicles are the site of production of testosterone (male sex hormone) you can take it that your brother would not have any testosterone in his body. However, removal of the testicles does not affect life expectancy. With regard to osteoporosis it would be wrong to say that it is a female problem because significant numbers of men also develop osteoporosis. However, because of your brotherís lack of testosterone he would be at increased risk of osteoporosis. A bone density study would indicate if his bone density is reduced. Your brother should take extra calcium in his diet and should get sufficient physical exercise, assuming that his disability does not preclude him from that. With regard to your query regarding female hormones it is true to say that both men and women produce female hormones but in the case of the male the level of female hormone production is very low. I think you need to get more information about your brotherís original diagnosis and also establish why he underwent an orchidectomy.