The male reproductive system consists of several organs and glands. Unlike the female system which is completely internal, the male organs are both internal and external, meaning they are visible outside of the body. The male reproductive system includes the testicles, the duct system, the penis, the Cowper’s glands and the prostate gland.
Each male is born with two testicles, which are oval-shaped organs that are about 2 inches in diameter in an adult male. The testicles are housed within the scrotum, the sac that hangs under the penis. The scrotum is an important part of the testicles because it regulates the temperature within the testicles. The testicles produce and store the sperm, the male reproductive cells.
In addition to being a part of the reproductive system, the testicles are also part of the endocrine system, which is a system of glands that produce and regulate hormones. The testicles produce testosterone, a hormone responsible for developing the secondary sexual characteristics such as a lower voice, facial hair and muscle mass.
The testicles and penis are connected by a series of ducts through which the sperm must travel. Each testicle is connected to a coiled tube called the epididymis. Immature sperm leave the testes and travel through the epididymis, reaching full maturity as they get to the tail end, where they can then be stored.
The epididymis connects to the vas deferens, a muscular tube that runs upward into the abdominal cavity, then goes laterally along the pelvic wall. The tube then runs under the bladder toward the prostate gland where it widens, forming an ampulla (a dilated portion of a duct).
At the ampulla, the vas deferens joins with another short duct called the ejaculatory duct that brings fluid from the seminal vesicles. This duct runs through the prostate gland and into the urethra. The urethra also connects to the bladder and extends the length of the penis, allowing fluids to be excreted from the body.
The penis, the external sex organ, is made up of three sections of spongy tissue that are full of many tiny blood vessels. Two parts lie side by side in the upper portion of the penis and the third forms the tip of the penis, also called the glans. The penis is responsible for the transfer of sperm and the excretion of fluids.
The Cowper’s glands, also known as the Bulbourethral, are two pea-sized glands that consist of many small tubes. These glands, located just below the prostate gland, are an important part of the male reproductive system, as they secrete fluid that is released during sexual stimulation.
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland found under the bladder and in front of the rectum. It produces about a third of the fluid that makes up the semen, according to PSA Rising. This fluid is essential to reproduction, as it nourishes and protects the sperm.