Reviews & Advice > Male Anatomy
Like women, men have a complex system of sexual organs. Learning about how each works is a good way to maintain awareness of health and sexual function.
The penis is one of the external male sex organs. Both urine and semen pass through the penis. It consists of three cylinder-shaped bodies of spongy tissue that runs the length of the shaft and are filled with many blood vessels. During arousal, blood fills these vessels and causes the penis to become hard and erect, making it possible for the male to penetrate his partner during intercourse.
At the center of the penis is a tube, the urethra, which carries urine and semen out of the body. When the penis is erect, the flow of urine is blocked so the male can only ejaculate semen at the point of orgasm.
The tip of the penis is called the glans. At birth, the glans is covered by a thin hood called the foreskin. This is removed or “circumcised” in some males shortly after birth.
Below and behind the penis is the loose pouch of skin called the scrotum. Internally, the scrotum is divided in half by a thin membrane with one of the two testicles on each side. The scrotum contracts and relaxes spontaneously to bring the testicles closer or further way from the body so that the sperm can develop in the testicles at an optimal temperature (body temperature can be too warm).
The testicles themselves vary in size, but are often about the size of large olives. They are secured within the scrotum at either end by a structure called the spermatic cord. The testicles, or testes, are responsible for making the male hormone testosterone and for generating sperm. Within the testes are coiled tubes called seminiferous tubules, which produce sperm cells. The vas deferens is a muscular tube that passes along the side of the testes to become part of the spermatic cord. It reaches back in the abdominal cavity and ends near the bladder. Just outside the prostate gland, the vas deferens unites with the seminal vesicle,
forming an ejaculatory duct, which empties into the urethra.
Ejaculation is the ejecting of semen (usually carrying sperm) from the male reproductory tract, and is usually accompanied by orgasm. It is usually the final stage and natural objective of sexual stimulation.
The prostate gland surrounds the first centimeters of the urethra. It produces two secretions, one to keep the urethra moist and the other to facilitate the passage of sperm into the male’s partner. The prostate gland is located just under the bladder and toward the front of the rectum area. For some men, the prostate gland is also an erogenous zone that, when stimulated, enhances sexual play.
Below the prostate gland are the Cowper’s Glands. These consist of tubes that secrete a fluid which provides some lubrication to the end of the penis (glands).
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