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The Male Reproductive System

Reproduction

The male reproductive system is dependent on hormones, which are chemicals that regulate the activity of many different types of cells or organs.

The male reproductive anatomy includes external and internal structures.

The external structures of the male reproductive system are the penis, the scrotum, and the testicles.

Penis This is the male organ used for sexual intercourse or copulation. It has three parts, the root of the penis, which is attached to the abdominal walls, the body, or shaft; and the glans, which is the cone-shaped part at the end of the penis. The glans is also called the head of the penis. The glan is covered with a loose layer of skin called the foreskin. This layer of skin is sometimes removed at birth under a circumcision procedure. At the tip of the glans of the penis is a tiny opening of the urethra, the tube which functions as a transport system for semen and urine. The penis also contains a number of sensitive nerve endings.

The body of the penis is cylindrical in shape and it has three internal chambers. These chambers are made up of special, sponge-like tissues necessary during erection. These tissues contains thousands of large spaces that fill with blood when the man is sexually aroused resulting in an erection. The skin of the penis is loose, flexible and elastic to accommodate changes in penis size during an erection.

Scrotum This is the loose and pouch-like sac of skin which hangs posterior to the penis. Inside the scrotum are the testicles, also called testes, as well as many nerves and blood vessels. The scrotum acts as a "climate control system" for the testes which is sensitive to extreme temperatures as this could affect the life of the sperm produced therein. The testes must be at a temperature slightly cooler than body temperature.

Testicles (testes) These are the oval-shaped organs found inside the scrotum. They are about the size of large olives and are secured at either end by what is termed as the spermatic cord. Most men have two testes. The testes are responsible for making testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, and for generating sperm. Inside the testes are tubes masses which are coiled or bundled together. They are called as the seminiferous tubules. These tubules function by producing sperm cells in a process called spermatogenesis.

The internal structures of the male reproductive system are the epididymis, vas deferens, ejaculatory ducts, urethra, seminal vesicles, prostate gland and bulbourethral glands.

Epididymis It transports and stores sperm cells that are produced in the testes. It also is the job of the epididymis to bring the sperm to maturity, since the sperm that emerge from the testes are immature and incapable of fertilization.

Vas deferens The main function of the vas deferens is to carry mature sperm cells via the urethra in anticipation for the ejaculation process.

Ejaculatory ducts These are formed by the fusion of the vas deferens and the seminal vesicles. The ejaculatory ducts empty into the urethra.

Urethra This is the tube-like structure which is the passage of the urine from the bladder to be expelled outside the body. In male reproductive system, it has an additional function of ejaculating semen during climax or orgasm. During erection, the flow of urine is hindered or blocked from the urethra, thus allowing only semen to be ejaculated at orgasm.

Seminal vesicles These are the sac-like pouches which are attached to the vas deferens located proximal to the base of the bladder.The main function of the seminal vesicles is to produce fructose, a fluid rich in sugar which is needed to provide the sperm a source of energy to help in adding motility or the ability to move or propel once it is lodged inside the female reproductive tract during copulation. The fluid of the seminal vesicles makes up most of the volume of a man's ejaculatory fluid, or ejaculate.

Prostate gland The prostate gland is a walnut-sized structure that is located below the urinary bladder in front of the rectum. The prostate gland contributes additional fluid to the ejaculate and provide nourishment to the sperm. The center of the prostate gland is where the urethra, carrying the ejaculate during orgasm, runs through.

Bulbourethral glands Also called Cowper's glands are the structures just lateral the urethra and inferior to the prostate gland. These are pea-sized structures. The main function of theses glands are to produce a clear, slippery fluid that empties directly into the urethra. This fluid serves to lubricate the urethra and to neutralize any acidity that may be present due to residual drops of urine in the urethra.

In conclusion, the organs of the male reproductive system are specialized for the following functions:

  • To produce, keep, and release sperm cells (the male reproductive cell) and semen (the fluid which acts as a protective agent to keep the sperm alive)
  • To ejaculate or discharge semen containing sperm
  • To secrete and produce the male sex hormones
  • To produce, keep healthy, and transmit the male reproductive cells and transport it within a protective fluid called semen
  • To transmit sperm cells within the female reproductive system

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