What is the Male Reproductive System?
The male reproductive system consists of a number of organs located outside the man’s body and around the pelvic area specifically designed to create life. It includes a pair of testes, a network of ducts, prostate, seminal vesicles and a penis. These organs function together to produce spermatozoa that then fertilize the egg in the female reproductive tract during conception.
The functions of the male reproductive system include:
- To produce, maintain and carry sperm
- To transmit sperm within the female reproductive tract
- To produce male sex hormones
External reproductive structures:
Most the structures and organs of the male reproductive system are found on the outside of the male’s body. These structures include the penis, scrotum and testicles.
The penis has a long, cylindrical shape and is made up of two parts, shaft and glans. These parts of the penis consist of erectile tissue are filled with blood. When the man is sexually aroused, the penis becomes erect and ready for penetration during intercourse. Once orgasm is reached, semen which contains sperm is ejaculated. The glans is the tip or head of the penis which has a loose, elasticized covering of skin called the foreskin and allows for changes in penis size when an erection occurs. The shaft is the main part of the penis and contains the urethra that carries the semen and urine.
The scrotum is a loose bag of skin that is located behind the penis. It contains the testicles, nerves and blood vessels. The scrotum protects the testicles and also regulates the temperature for sperm development – the temperature of the testicles must be at a cooler temperature than the rest of the body.
The testicles (testes) are two small oval-shaped organs that are found inside the scrotum. They are responsible for producing sperm as well as the making of testosterone (male sex hormone).
Internal reproductive structures (also referred to as the accessory organs) include:
The vas deferens is a long tube that is found between the epididymis and urethra and joins them together. It carries the sperm from the testes to the urethra during ejaculation.
The ejaculatory ducts are formed by the fusion of the vas deferens and the ducts of the seminal vesicles. They empty into the urethra, and during ejaculation, semen travels through the ducts and is released via the penis.
The urethra is the tube that releases urine from the bladder to outside of the body. It also ejaculates semen when a reaches orgasm – when ejaculation occurs, the flow of urine is blocked from the urethra.
The seminal vesicles are sac-like glands that are located behind the bladder. These glands expel a sugar-rich fluid that promotes sperm motility.
The prostate gland is a walnut-sized structure that surrounds the bladder and urethra. It releases prostate fluids that forms part of the seminal fluid and helps to nourish the sperm.
The bulbourethral glands also known as Cowper’s glands are the size of a pea and are situated below the prostate gland. These glands secrete a clear fluid that is transported into the urethra and acts as a lubricant to neutralize acid caused by urine.
The epididymis is a long tube that is located at the back of each testicle. This tube stores and transports sperm cells produced in the testicles and also helps to collect immature sperm from the testicles.