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Understanding the Male Anatomy (cont.)

IN THIS ARTICLE

Prostate Gland

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that lies below the urinary bladder and surrounds the urethra. Along with the seminal vesicles, the prostate gland produces a fluid, called prostatic fluid, that contains, protects, nourishes, and supports the sperm. The white, sticky fluid originally from the prostate forms most of the volume of the semen. The prostate has no known function other than reproduction.

The prostate grows throughout life. This growth often causes a blockage in the urethra that affects voiding with such symptoms as urinary frequency, excessive urination at night (nocturia), urgency of urination, and weakening of the urinary stream. This enlargement of the prostate, called benign prostatic hyperplasia (or BPH), can be treated with medication or various surgical procedures.

The prostate is also the source of a prostate specific antigen (or PSA) that is used as a blood test to detect and monitor prostate cancer.

Picture of the Prostate Gland
Picture of the Prostate Gland

Urethra

The urethra is surrounded by the corpus spongiosum, one of the cylindrical spaces of soft tissue of the penis described earlier. In men, the urethra provides a dual purpose:

  • to transport urine from the bladder, and
  • to transport the semen (sperm cells and fluid from the seminal vesicles and the prostate) out the tip of the penis.

Scar tissue in this passage, called strictures, can cause urinary difficulty.

Pictures of the Male Reproductive System and Anatomy

Male reproductive system.
Male reproductive system. Click to view larger image.

Longitudinal section of the penis and its relationship to the bladder and the urethra.
Longitudinal section of the penis and its relationship to the bladder and the urethra. Click to view larger image.

Medically reviewed by Michael Wolff, MD; American Board of Urology

REFERENCE:

MedscapeReference.com. Male Reproductive Organ Anatomy.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/17/2016
Medical Author:

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