The human body has different systems that are responsible for specific functions. Just like every other human body system, the male reproductive system is very important for it is responsible for human reproduction.
Dig deeper into how the male reproductive system works and what its important parts and functions are.
Male reproductive system development
The development of the male reproductive system begins at an early stage in the embryo. In a male embryo, the XY chromosomes are present. The Y chromosome contains the SRY gene, which stimulates the development of the primitive sex cords to form testis cords. A portion of the testis cords breaks off to form the future rete testis.
In puberty, these cords acquire a lumen and become the seminiferous tubules – the site within which sperm will be formed. In the eighth week, they begin production of testosterone – which drives differentiation of the internal and external genitalia.
The process in which the male reproductive organ develops in order to be effective is long.
Reproduction is the process by which organisms make more organisms like themselves. The function of the male reproductive system is for human reproduction, along with the female reproductive system. It is an important system in the body, yet some people do not have enough knowledge about it.
The male reproductive system has the following functions:
- To produce, maintain, and transport sperm and protective fluid.
- To discharge sperm within the female reproductive tract during intercourse.
- To produce and secrete male hormones responsible for maintaining the male reproductive system.
There are other functions that the male reproductive organs can do that most people are not aware of. There are also terms used scientifically when the male reproductive system is the subject. Unless people know these terms, understanding the subject will be difficult. These terms include:
- Epididymis: coiled duct on the top and at the side of the testis that stores sperm before emission.
- Prepuce: foreskin which is removed during circumcision.
- Prostate gland: is the gland that makes the fluid that helps the sperm stay alive.
- Sperm/spermatozoa: male gamete produced in the testis that unites with the ovum in the female to produce offspring.
- Testis/testicle: one of two male reproductive glands that produce sperm and the hormone testosterone.
- Vas deferens/ductus deferens: duct that carries sperm from the epididymis to the ejaculatory duct.
Male reproductive system parts and functions
This reproductive system has different parts, and each has its unique functions. The male reproductive system diagram below shows its different parts.
Below are the functions of the major organs of the male reproductive system.
- The two testicles or testes are oval-shaped glands about 1 inch wide and 2 inches long. Because they produce sperm best at a temperature slightly lower than body temperature, they hang outside the body in their scrotal sac. If it gets too cold, the external sac of skin will shrink and draw them up closer to the body. The testicles are constantly producing and storing testosterone and millions of sperm cells.
- The duct system includes the epididymis and vas deferens. The epididymis is a network of coiled tubes that sit alongside the testicles. On the other hand, the vas deferens is also called the sperm duct. These ducts carry the sperm from the epididymis to the prostate gland.
- The seminal vesicle and prostate are also known as accessory glands and these glands help in producing seminal fluid. The seminal vesicle located behind the bladder produces the whitish fluid, or the seminal fluid, needed for the sperm to reach the intended egg. The prostate gland makes a fluid that helps the sperm move more quickly through the female reproductive system.
- Lastly, the penis or the organ of copulation, which is an essential part of the male anatomy, is one of the major organs of the system. It is made of two parts: the shaft and the head. The small slit at the tip is the opening of the urethra, which is the tube that carries the seminal fluid into the female genitalia. The tip is normally covered by a fold of skin called the foreskin. Removal of the foreskin is called circumcision.
Male reproductive system diseases
It is not enough to know the parts and function of male reproductive system, so people, especially men, should be aware of the diseases they could encounter.
The most common disease of the male reproductive system is prostate cancer. It occurs in the prostate — a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm.
Usually, prostate cancer grows slowly and is initially confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm. However, while some types of prostate cancer grow slowly and may need minimal or even no treatment, other types are aggressive and can spread quickly.
According to livescience.com, another common condition that affects about 1 out of 10 males on a long term basis is erectile dysfunction. It can be linked to vascular disease and neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, trauma, and psychological episodes.
Another disease that could attack the male reproductive system is varicocele. It occurs because of the dilated and twisted veins of the testis and is a sort of “hemorrhoids” of the external sac of skin. It manifests itself as a swelling on the side of the external sac of skin which may look and feel like a bag of worms. It may be surgically corrected if it causes discomfort. This condition may also cause reduced sperm count and male sterility due to sluggish blood flow elevating testicular temperature.
Other male reproductive system diseases are listed below.
- Hypospadias is a condition in which the external urinary meatus (opening) opens anywhere below the tip of the external organ rather than at the tip.
- A hydrocele is a fluid-filled sac partially surrounding the testis. It manifests itself as a swelling on the side of the external sac of skin.
- Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) is the swelling of the prostate gland which surrounds the base of the male bladder and urethra, causing difficulty urinating, dribbling, and nocturia. BPH becomes more common as men age.
- Cryptorchidism, which means a hidden testicle, is a condition of lack of descent of one or both testes into the external sac of skin. If not corrected, usually by surgery, it can lead to sterility and an increased risk of testicular cancer.
Knowing these diseases, men should always look after their reproductive system by visiting their doctor for a check-up at least once a year. Their doctor will be able to check if there are irregularities present and will take an immediate step to treat the issue. Doctors' offices are also a safe space for men to discuss their concerns regarding their reproductive organs.
Another tip to keep the reproductive system healthy is to practice good hygiene and maintain a healthy lifestyle. You will be surprised at how important this is in ensuring your reproductive system’s efficiency.
As an old saying says, health is wealth. That is why people should have a basic knowledge of their bodies and their system. As for men, the male reproductive system is a very important system in their body which they should also give importance to and prioritize.