Male reproductive system

The male reproductive system is made up of the external genitalia. The shaft of the penis consists of two erectile bodies called the corpus cavernosum, which comprises a mass of smooth muscle, and endothelial-lined vessels and spaces (lacunae), richly supplied with nerve endings.

The urethra, which is the channel for urine and ejaculate, runs along the underside of the corpora cavernosa and is surrounded by the corpus spongiosum.The enlarged, bulbous shaped end of the corpus spongiosum forms the glans penis. The foreskin is a loose fold of skin that adults can retract to expose the glans penis.

The frenulum is the area under the penis where the foreskin is attached.The testes hang outside the abdominal cavity of the male within the scrotum. They begin their development in the abdominal cavity but descend into the scrotal sacs during the last two months of fetal development.

This is required for the production of sperm because internal body temperatures are too high to produce viable sperm. The testes also produce the male sex hormones.

The epididymis is a mass of tightly coiled tubes cupped against the testicles. It acts as a storage place for sperm before they enter the vas deferens – tubes that carry sperm from the testes to the urethra.
The male reproductive system

Click the area you wish to explore.

The seminal vesicles are located at the back of the prostate and produce most of the volume of the semen. Blockages and stones may occur in the area, resulting in infections or even fertility problems.
The urethra runs along the base of the penis and allows urine to be transported from the bladder and out of the body. It can be affected by many problems, including infections, strictures or narrowings and, very rarely, cancers. Sometimes, men can be born with the urethra opening up along the body of the penis, a condition called hypospadias.
The penis contains a number of different types of tissue, including erectile tissue, which enables the penis to become erect when it’s engorged with blood, triggered by sexual arousal. This plays a key role in sexual function and ejaculation.
The prostate gland is a walnut sized structure which also provides some of the semen volume. It can be affected by many problems, including prostate cancer, prostatitis and blockages due to cysts and stones. The prostate will also enlarge as men get older which can cause urinary symptoms, such as an increased need to urinate – this is often benign and treatable but should never be ignored.
Also known as Cowper’s glands, the bulbourethral glands are two pea-sized structures located deep within the base of the penis and below the prostrate and urethra. Their primary function is to produce pre-ejaculate; clear, mucous-like fluid that neutralises the urethra in preparation or ejaculation.
The Bladder stores urine and is like a big bag. It is a hollow muscle, which expands when it fills. It can be affected by many diseases including cancers, infections and storage problems. The bladder can also be overactive in some conditions.
The vas deferens is a tube which transports sperm from the testicle. This is the structure which is tied off at the time of a vasectomy (link to text), a process that can be reversed with a vasectomy reversal.
Found at the back of each testis, the epididymis contains lots of minute tubes and is where sperm fully matures. The epididymis can also be affected by many problems, including infections (Epididymitis), blockages, cysts and, rarely, benign or malignant tumours.
The testes are the two oval-shaped structures that hang below the penis within the scrotum. They’re responsible for producing sperm and testosterone and are attached to the body by the spermatic cord, which contains veins, blood vessels, nerves and the vas deferens. These veins can sometimes become dilated and develop ‘varicocele’, which can cause fertility problems. Other problems affecting the testes include cancer, infection (orchitis) and hormonal issues.
The scrotum hangs outside the body to keep the temperature of the testes cool. It consists of a skin and muscle layer which surrounds the testes and spermatic cord structures. Occasionally, problems such as cysts can occur and inflammatory problems may affect the skin.
The penis plays a key role in both male sexual function and enabling urine to leave the body. It’s made up of two main erectile bodies containing muscle called the corpora cavernosa, which relaxes when men get an erection. The penis can also be effected by many conditions, including Peyronie’s disease, skin problems such as phimosis and, rarely, penile cancer.
The male reproductive system

Click the area you
wish to explore.

Seminal Vesicle

The seminal vesicles are located at the back of the prostate and produce most of the volume of the semen. Blockages and stones may occur in the area, resulting in infections or even fertility problems.

Urethra

The urethra runs along the base of the penis and allows urine to be transported from the bladder and out of the body. It can be affected by many problems, including infections, strictures or narrowings and, very rarely, cancers. Sometimes, men can be born with the urethra opening up along the body of the penis, a condition called hypospadias.

Erectile Tissue of Penis

The penis contains a number of different types of tissue, including erectile tissue, which enables the penis to become erect when it’s engorged with blood, triggered by sexual arousal. This plays a key role in sexual function and ejaculation.

Prostate Gland

The prostate gland is a walnut sized structure which also provides some of the semen volume. It can be affected by many problems, including prostate cancer, prostatitis and blockages due to cysts and stones. The prostate will also enlarge as men get older which can cause urinary symptoms, such as an increased need to urinate – this is often benign and treatable but should never be ignored.

Bulbourethral Glands

Also known as Cowper’s glands, the bulbourethral glands are two pea-sized structures located deep within the base of the penis and below the prostrate and urethra. Their primary function is to produce pre-ejaculate; clear, mucous-like fluid that neutralises the urethra in preparation or ejaculation.

Urinary Bladder

The Bladder stores urine and is like a big bag. It is a hollow muscle, which expands when it fills. It can be affected by many diseases including cancers, infections and storage problems. The bladder can also be overactive in some conditions.

Vas Deferens

The vas deferens is a tube which transports sperm from the testicle. This is the structure which is tied off at the time of a vasectomy (link to text), a process that can be reversed with a vasectomy reversal.

Epididymis

Found at the back of each testis, the epididymis contains lots of minute tubes and is where sperm fully matures. The epididymis can also be affected by many problems, including infections (Epididymitis), blockages, cysts and, rarely, benign or malignant tumours.

Testes

The testes are the two oval-shaped structures that hang below the penis within the scrotum. They’re responsible for producing sperm and testosterone and are attached to the body by the spermatic cord, which contains veins, blood vessels, nerves and the vas deferens. These veins can sometimes become dilated and develop ‘varicocele’, which can cause fertility problems. Other problems affecting the testes include cancer, infection (orchitis) and hormonal issues.

Scrotum

The scrotum hangs outside the body to keep the temperature of the testes cool. It consists of a skin and muscle layer which surrounds the testes and spermatic cord structures. Occasionally, problems such as cysts can occur and inflammatory problems may affect the skin.

Penis

The penis plays a key role in both male sexual function and enabling urine to leave the body. It’s made up of two main erectile bodies containing muscle called the corpora cavernosa, which relaxes when men get an erection. The penis can also be effected by many conditions, including Peyronie’s disease, skin problems such as phimosis and, rarely, penile cancer.

Patient hub

Pregnancy after vasectomy: 6 questions to ask if you’re considering getting a vasectomy reversal

Find out more >

Surgical Sperm Retrieval: What does it mean and when is it useful?

Find out more >

What is penile reconstruction surgery?

Find out more >

Video FAQ’s

Make an enquiry





18 Devonshire Street, Marylebone, London W1G 7AF
+44 (0)20 7224 5089
Open in Google >

Lister Hospital, Chelsea Bridge Rd, London SW1W 8RH
+44 (0)20 7730 7733
Open in Google >

Katie.Fraser@hcahealthcare.co.uk