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Male Reproductive Structures

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Male Reproductive Structures
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What organs are unique to the male body?

Men and women share most of the same organs. We all have skin, a heart, and lungs. Men and women differ only in their reproductive organs.

Male Reproductive Organs

The male reproductive organs include the penis, testes, and epididymis ( Figure below ). The figure also shows other parts of the male reproductive system.

This drawing shows the organs of the male reproductive system. It shows the organs from the side. Find each organ in the drawing as you read about it in the text.

  • The penis is a cylinder-shaped organ. It contains the urethra. The urethra is a tube that carries urine out of the body. The urethra also carries sperm out of the body.
  • The two testes (singular, testis) are egg-shaped organs. They produce sperm and secrete testosterone. The testes are found inside of the scrotum. The scrotum is a sac that hangs down outside the body. The scrotum also contains the epididymis. The testes, being in the scrotum outside the body, allow the temperature of the sperm to be maintained at a few degrees lower than body temperature. This is necessary for the stability of these reproductive cells.
  • The epididymis is a tube that is about six meters (20 feet) long in adults. It is tightly coiled, so it fits inside the scrotum. It rests on top of the testes. The epididymis is where sperm grow larger and mature. The epididymis also stores sperm until they leave the body.

Other parts of the male reproductive system include the vas deferens and the prostate gland. Both of these structures are pictured below ( Figure above ).

  • The vas deferens is a tube that carries sperm from the epididymis to the urethra.
  • The prostate gland secretes a fluid that mixes with sperm to help form semen. Semen is a "milky" liquid that carries sperm through the urethra and out of the body. In addition to sperm cells, semen contains sugars (fructose) which provide energy to the sperm cells, and enzymes and other substances which help the sperm survive.

Vocabulary

  • epididymis : Tube in the male reproductive organs in which sperm mature and are stored until they leave the body.
  • penis : Cylindar-shaped male reproductive organ containing the urethra through which sperm and urine pass out of the body.
  • prostate gland : Gland that secretes a fluid that mixes with sperm to help form semen.
  • scrotum : Sac of skin that holds the testes.
  • semen : "Milky" liquid that carries sperm through the urethra and out of the body.
  • testes : Male reproductive organs that produce sperm and secrete testosterone.
  • urethra : Tube that carries urine and sperm out of the body.
  • vas deferens : Tube that carries sperm from the epididymis to the urethra.

Summary

  • Male reproductive organs include the penis, testes, and epididymis.
  • The testes produce sperm and secrete testosterone.

Practice

Use the resources below to answer the questions that follow.

  1. How long is sperm stored once it is produced?
  2. What two types of cells are found in the epididymis? What are the functions of these cells?
  1. What does the prostate gland do? Where is it located?
  2. What is the epididymis? Where is it located? What is its function?
  3. What is the corpus spongiosum? Where is it located? What is its function?

Review

  1. Arrange the following structures in the order that sperm pass through them: urethra, epididymis, vas deferens.
  2. Why is the epididymis needed for reproduction in males?

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