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Male Reproductive System

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Description of Male Reproductive Organ

The male reproductive system is the cumulative outcome of different organs required for producing male gametes and fertilization of female gametes. The set of internal and external organs constitute the male reproductive system. In this article, we will study these organs and their functions elaborately.

What is the Male Reproductive System?

The male reproductive system is made of a group of internal and external organs with proper functions. These organs are also a part of the urinary system of male human beings. The prime functions of this system are:

  1. Production, storage, maintenance, and transportation of semen and sperm

  2. Discharge of sperm into the female reproductive system for fertilization

  3. Secretion of sex hormones

This set of organs helps the males to perform sexual intercourse with the females and to reproduce offspring. Let us check out the functions of each male reproductive organ in this system.

External Male Reproductive Organs

1. Penis

This is the external male sex organ required for the penetration purpose and to deposit sperm inside the female reproductive system. Its different parts are:

  • Root – the point of attachment of the penile shaft with the abdominal wall

  • Shaft – the long tubular structure hanging outside the body that can harden due to the supply of blood

  • The glans – the tip of the penis head which is conical in nature covered by foreskin.

The penis head also contains the opening of the duct called the urethra. Through this duct, males pass urine during urination or micturition. It is also the passage through which semen passes and is deposited deep inside the female reproductive system.

2. Scrotum

This is another external male reproductive organ that hangs outside the body between the legs. It is a sac-like structure that holds a pair of organs called testes or testicles. This sac has a heavy supply of blood vessels that keep the testes at a controlled temperature for the normal development of sperm.

3. Testes

The prime organs of the male reproductive system are the testes. They are present inside the scrotum and are connected by the spermatic cord. Its function is to produce testosterone, the male sex hormone, and sperm. The coiled tubules inside the testes are called seminiferous tubules. These tubules produce sperm cells by following a process called spermatogenesis.

4. Epididymis

The long coiled tube that rests behind the testes is called the epididymis. Each testicle has one at the back. Its prime function is to make the sperms mature before ejaculation. The contraction forces generated in this tube enable a male to ejaculate sperm with semen.

Internal Male Reproductive Organs

The structure of male reproductive system organs present inside the body are:

1. Vas Deferens

It is a long and muscular tube that connects the epididymis to the urethra. It travels through the pelvic cavity and right behind the urinary bladder. Semen with mature sperm is transported through this tube to the urethra for ejaculation.

2. Ejaculatory Ducts

This duct is formed when the vas deferens meet with seminal vesicles. There are two such ducts that are empty in the urethra. They carry and unload the content of the seminal vesicles and vas deferens.

3. Urethra

As mentioned earlier, the male reproductive system is a part of the urinary system too. The urethra is the common duct that passes urine during urination and semen during sexual ejaculation.

When a male reaches orgasm, the contraction in the epididymis carries the produced sperm to the vas deferens. Along with the content of the seminal vesicle, it is then ejaculated through the urethra that opens in the erected penis. Urination will be involuntarily stopped when a male is involved in sexual intercourse or masturbation resulting in creating an unhindered path for the semen ejaculation.

4. Seminal Vesicles

These vesicles are the pouches attached to the vas deferens at the base of the urinary bladder. These vesicles develop a fructose-rich fluid providing the sperms a burst of energy to swim. This becomes the prime constituent of the semen that is deposited inside the female reproductive system. The sperm cells then utilize this fructose fluid for energy production and swimming towards the female gametes.

5. Prostate Gland

This is a walnut-shaped gland present right below the urinary bladder but in front of the rectum. This gland also provides extra fluid for ejaculatory purposes. The fluid from this gland also provides nourishment to the sperm cells in semen. The urethra runs through the central part of this gland.

6. Bulbourethral Glands

This is another male reproductive part present inside the body. It is also called Cowper's gland. It is a pea-sized structure located on each side of the urethra right beneath the prostate gland. The fluid from this gland lubricates the urethral lumen and neutralizes urinal acidity to keep the sperm cells safe during transportation.

Functions of the Male Reproductive System

The male reproductive system functions are:

  • Production and secretion of male sex hormone

  • Production of sperms and semen for fertilization of the female gametes

  • Transportation of the content of the internal and external organs to the female reproductive tract for fertilization during sexual intercourse

This is a brief introduction to the structure, location, and functions of the male reproductive organs located internally and externally. Together they form the male reproductive system and perform the various functions required to inseminate the female reproductive system for reproduction.

Important Terminologies Related To the Male Reproductive System

  1. Semen: provides a medium for sperm motility and promotes the survival of spermatozoa. The semen contains proteolytic enzymes, fructose and spermatozoa.

  2. Spermatogenesis: refers to the process of production of sperms within the seminiferous tubules in the testes.

  3. Testosterone: is a steroid hormone whose primary role is to produce male testes and the development of secondary sex characteristics in males.

  4. Scrotum: it is like a bag of muscles and skin that contain the testes.

  5. Epididymis: The sperms are stored in a tightly coiled narrow tube during maturation that connects the different ducts of each testis to the vas deferens.

  6. Leydig cells or the interstitial cells of Leydig: produce testosterone when the luteinizing hormone is present.

  7. Sertoli cells: help in the process of spermatogenesis and is a part of the seminiferous tubule.

  8. Testes: are the male gonads in animals which are also referred to as testicles.

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FAQs on Male Reproductive System

1. Are the female reproductive system and urinary system similar?

No, the female reproductive system and urinary system are not at all similar to the males. This can be easily understood by the concept that the reproductive system of males and females is very different because they are designed to perform completely different mechanisms in a very different style. In females, the reproductive and urinary systems are completely different from each other. The female reproductive system is more complex than the male one in terms of morphology and gamete production.

2. What is the difference between the male and female reproduction systems?

Male and females are very different from each other. The functioning of the reproductive system in both males and females is very different. The morphology, physiology, and anatomy of the reproductive organs of males and females are very different. For example, the structure of eggs in females and sperm in males. The external male reproductive system parts differ in complexity from the female reproductive organs. In fact, the type of hormones produced in females is entirely different from that of males. The female reproductive system produces a single ovum every 28-33 days whereas the male reproductive system produces millions of sperms. 

3. What are accessory sex organs present in a male reproductive system?

The accessory organs in a male reproductive system are the internal organs of the system. The seminal vesicles, vas deferens, prostate gland, and bulbourethral are the accessory organs that make a part of the male reproductive system. The vas deferens is the organ in the male reproductive system that prepares for ejaculation by transporting the mature sperm to the urethra. The seminal vesicles are sac-like pouches that are present near the base of the bladder attached to the vas deferens. Molecules that serve as energy sources like fructose are produced by the vesicles. Most of the volume of a man’s ejaculation is composed of the fluid of the seminal vesicles. The prostate gland is below the urinary bladder in front of the rectum that provides nourishment to the sperms. Bulbourethral glands are present on the sides of the urethra and produce a slippery, clear fluid into the urethra that lubricates the urethra and also neutralizes the acidity caused due to residual urine.

4. How is the male penis of the male reproductive system homologous to the female clitoris?

The male reproductive penis and the female clitoris are very similar to each other in terms of the parts of the organs. The various similarities between the parts of the male penis and the female clitoris are that the Glans of the male penis is homologous to the female clitoral glans, the Corpora cavernosa in males and the body of the clitoris in female are homologous to each other, the Corpus spongiosum of male homologous to vestibular bulbs beneath the labia minora of female, the Scrotum in male is homologous to the labia minora and labia majora of female and the Foreskin in male is homologous to the clitoral hood in female.

5. What will be the outcome of studying the male reproductive system?

By studying the male reproductive system, students will be able to know about the function of the male reproductive system like production and transportation of sperms, the ejaculation of sperm into the female reproductive system, and the production and secretion of male hormones. The students will be able to get knowledge of both internal and external organs of the reproductive system. The excess heat can be dispersed at a faster rate by moving the testes away from the abdomen thereby increasing the exposed surface area. 

The scrotum aids in keeping the temperature of the body slightly lower than the rest of the body. Hormones like testosterone and androgens are produced by the testes, seminiferous tubules produce sperms, male hormones are produced and secreted by the Leydig cells, and the Sertoli cells aid in the process of spermatogenesis. The columns of corpus cavernosum and spongiosum tissue form the major structure of the penis. The passage of urine and seminal fluid occurs through the opening of the urethral duct. The release of sperm that propels the sperm into the vaginal canal is known as ejaculation.  The sperms are formed in the seminiferous tubules of the testes. Vasectomy is the procedure where vas deferens is cut to prevent the sperm from entering the urethra.

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