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The function of the male reproductive system

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The main functions of the male reproductive system are:
1. Produce, maintain and transport the sperms and semen
2. To produce and secrete male sex hormones
3. To discharge sperms into the female reproductive tract1

The structures included in the male reproductive system can be divided into internal and external components

External components of the men's reproductive system include:

1. Penis: It is the male sexual organ which is used for intercourse. The penis is divided into three parts. First one is the root which attaches the penis to the body. Second is the shaft of the penis which contains three chambers which are made up of sponge like erectile tissue.

These tissues contain many large spaces which are filled with blood when the man is sexually aroused. When the penis is erect, the urine flow is blocked from urethra allowing semen to ejaculate2. The third part of the penis is called glans penis which has the opening of the urethra at its tip. The glans penis is covered with a foreskin which is surgically removed in many cultures known as circumcision3

2. Scrotum: Scrotum is a pouch like sac beneath the penis. It contains testes in it. Scrotum provides protection and controlled temperature environment to the testis. For the process of sperm production, a temperature slightly lower than the body is needed for testis which is provided by the scrotum. Moreover, the special scrotal muscles move the testis closer to the body for warmth by contraction and away from the body for cooling by relaxation.

3. Testes: Testes are oval organs responsible for the production of testosterone and spermatogenesis. Human beings have two testes in their scrotum which are secured by the spermatic cord4.

4. Epididymis: It is a long coiled tube situated on the back side of each testis. Its function is storage of sperm cells produced in the testes. It is also the site where sperm cells are matured. Epididymis force sperm cells into vas deferens during ejaculation5

Internal components include:

1. Vas deferens: It is a long muscular tube that transports sperms to the urethra.
2. Urethra: It is used to carry urine from the bladder to outside the body. In the male, it is also used to ejaculate the sperms6.
3. Seminal vesicles: seminal vesicles are sac-like pouches that produce sugar rich fluids (fructose) which provide sperms with the source of energy and help the sperms in their motility. Most of the volume of man's ejaculatory fluid is made by seminal vesicles.
4. Prostate: prostate glands provide an additional fluid which helps the sperms to nourish7.
5. Bulbourethral glands: These glands secrete clear, slippery fluid that is directly secreted into urethra which helps the urethra to neutralize any acidity that may be present due to residual drops of urine.

The male reproductive system is dependent on hormones. Primary hormones which are involved in the functioning of male reproductive system are FSH and LH. FSH is used for spermatogenesis and LH is used for the production of testosterone. Testosterone is the pivotal hormone in determining secondary male characteristics including voice change, muscle mass strength and sex drive8 9.

References
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4854098/
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1351051/
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3881635/
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19343782
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2639084/
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1328279/
7.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072475/
8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279031/
9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20126845

Topics: male reproductive system

Dr. Owais Amin

Written by Dr. Owais Amin