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Functions & Structures of the Male Reproductive System

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  • 00:00 The Male Reproductive System
  • 00:50 Testicles and Ducts
  • 2:56 Penis and its Structures
  • 3:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has taught high school and college biology and has a master's degree in cancer biology.

This lesson is going to cover the basic structures and functions that are a part of the male reproductive system. We will look at how these structures work together to allow for semen production and ejaculation.

The Male Reproductive System

As you are going through learning the different body systems, you begin to think about going into a specific area of healthcare. You just so happen to run into your friend Kevin at the store one day and he began to tell you about how much he is enjoying working at the office of a urologist. After you give a puzzled look, Kevin reminds you that a urologist is a person that specializes in treating the urinary tract in females and males as well as the reproductive tract in males.

Kevin insists that you should look into going into the specialty. You know that you are solid in your understanding of the urinary tracts in both sexes, but you have to admit that you aren't as sharp with the male reproductive system. Kevin agrees to help you study the male reproductive system so you can be confident working with a urologist. Here's how your study session goes.

Testicles and Ducts

You guys choose to begin at the site of sperm production which we refer to as spermatogenesis. Seminiferous vesicles are the tubules responsible for spermatogenesis. The testicles, called testes for short, are the male sex organs that contain seminiferous tubules that carry out spermatogenesis and secrete testosterone. Testosterone is the male sex hormone that causes development of male sex characteristics. You add in that the sac that houses the testes to keep them lower than body temperature is the scrotum or scrotal sac. Kevin confirms that and reminds you that the spermatic cord is the tube, nerves and blood vessels that suspends the testes into the scrotum.

Next, you guys go over the next stop for newly formed sperm. There is a bundle of tubes sitting on top of the testes that collect sperm known as the epididymis. It is here in the epididymis that sperm finish developing and develop the ability to swim.

It hits you that one part of the spermatic cord is the vas deferens, which is the tube that allows passage of sperm from the epididymis. The vas deferens leads to the next major point in the tract known as the seminal vesicles. These are the glands that secrete fluid that help to nourish sperm so they are able to fertilize the female ovum.

Kevin prompts you to think about the other reproductive gland that secretes fluids to nourish sperm, called the prostate gland. Yes, you remember! It is about the size of a walnut and surrounds the exit from the reproductive tract. You state that the seminal vesicles and prostate gland also join together to form the ejaculatory duct. The sperm suspended in nourishing fluid is now called semen at this point. The set of glands beneath the prostate gland that secrete a small amount of fluid that makes up a small portion of semen are known as the bulbourethral or Cowper's glands.

Penis and its Structures

You two recognize that this is the point where the semen is entering the penis or male organ for sex and delivery of semen into the female vagina. The penis averages at about five to six inches in length and contains a hollow passageway for semen and urine called the urethra. You are already familiar with the fact that there is an enlarged area at the tip of the penis called the glans penis. The act of expelling semen to the outside of the body is known as ejaculation. The last thing that you guys discuss about the penis is that there is an extension of skin over the glans penis that is referred to as the foreskin. The foreskin functions to protect the end of the penis.

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