The Male Reproductive System

Note to Parents – Parents and teachers need to be aware that this installment on the reproductive system will contain the names of male and female body parts.

We have been looking at the various systems and organs and parts of the human body.  Many of these systems and parts are miraculous in their own right, but there is nothing more miraculous in the human body than the reproductive system and the miracle of birth.

In most of the different body systems we have looked at so far, the differences between male and female have been fairly minimal.  However, there are major differences in the structure and function of the male and female reproductive systems that we will be looking at.  This week we will start with the male system and visit the female system next week..

The male reproductive system is responsible for the production of the male hormone testosterone, along with the production of sperm cells and delivering them to the female.  Sperm cells are the male sexual cells with half the chromosomes of regular cells produced through meiosis.  In Scripture, sperm is referred to as the man’s seed (Gen. 21:12-13; 22:18; 26:4).  For more information on meiosis see: Cell Division 2 – Simple Cell Part 21.

The male reproductive system is often divided into two sections: internal and external.

I.          Internal Male Reproductive System – The functions of the internal male sexual system includes the production and transportation of sperm.

A.        Vas Deferens – The vas deferens consists of a pair muscle lined tubes that carries sperm cells from the epididymus to the ejaculatory duct just prior to joining the urethra.

B.        Seminal Vesicles – The seminal vesicles are a pair of glands approximately 1.5 – 2 inches long, attached to the junction of the vas deferens and ejaculatory duct.  Their primary function is to produce the seminal fluid in which the sperm is suspended and transported.  The seminal fluid, which makes up about 70%-75% of the semen, has a high concentration of fructose sugar which provides an energy source for the sperm cells.

C.        Prostate Gland – The prostate gland is about the size of a walnut and surrounds the urethra at the base of the urinary bladder.  It produces a whitish, slightly alkaline fluid that composes around 20%-25% of the semen or seminal fluid.  The prostate fluid adds protection and longevity to the DNA laden sperm cells, thus their chances of surviving the arduous journey to the female ovum and fertilization.

D.        Bulbourethral Gland – Also known as the Cowper’s glands, the bulbourethrl glands are a pair of small glands behind the urethra at the base of the penis.  They secrete a clear fluid sometimes referred to as pre-ejaculatory fluid.   This fluid helps to clean out the urethra, removing any urine or acidic residue that may remain in the urethra.  It also helps to provide an early lubricant for sperm prior to the release of the semen.  It also helps provide a lubricant between the male penis and the female vagina.

E.        Ejaculatory Ducts – The ejaculatory ducts are a pair of short, less than an inch long, ducts that connect the vas deferens and seminal vesicles at one end to the urethra near the base of the penis at the other end.  Its primary function is to collect all of the different fluids and sperm and transport them altogether to the urethra.

F.         Urethra – As described in the section on the urinary system, the urethra carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.  It also carries the male sperm and semen from the ejaculatory ducts out through the penis.

II.         External Male Reproductive System – Consists mostly of the male sexual organs that are located outside the main body cavity.  The function of the external organs consists of the elimination of liquid body waste, production of testosterone and the delivery of the sperm and semen to the female during intercourse.

A.        Testicles – The testicles are a pair of oval organs found in the scrotum.  The primary functions of the testicles are the production of the male sex hormone testosterone and the production of sperm cells used for reproduction.

1.         Seminiferous Tubules – The Seminiferous tubules are a series of long convoluted tubules inside the testicles.  The process of meiosis and the production of sperm cells take place in the seminiferous tubules.  The sperm cells are not fully mature and are incapable of fertilizing a female egg.

B.        Epididymis – Also spelled epididymus, they are a pair of long coiled tubes, located on the rear side of each testicle.  The immature sperm cells produced in the seminiferous tubules are collected in the epididymis where they mature and stored.  The process of intercourse and sexual arousal causes contractions around the epididymis which pushes the sperm cells out of the epididymis and into the vas deferens.

C         Scrotum – The scrotum is a muscle lined sac that hangs below and at the base of the penis.  It contains the testicles and epididymis, along with a large number of blood vessels and nerves.  Besides housing the testicles and epididymis, the scrotum acts as a temperature control for them.  If the testicles and sperm inside the scrotum get too hot, the muscles of the scrotal walls relax to allow them to hang further from the body where they will be cooler.  If the testicles and sperm get too cold, the scrotum contracts and pulls the sac up close to the body for warmth.

D.        Penis – The penis is often referred to as the male sex organ.  It is generally divided into three sections:

1.         Base – Also known as the root, is where the penis attaches to the abdominal wall at the pubic arch.

2.         Shaft – This is the long cylindrical section of the penis between the base and glans.  The shaft of the penis consists of three sections of cavernous tissue that fill up with blood during sexual arousal.  The urethra also runs through the length of the shaft.  The skin surrounding the penis is quite elastic to allow for the enlargement of the organ during sexual intercourse.  The skin at the anterior end of the shaft, just behind the glans, is known as the prepuce or foreskin and forms a lose fold that covers the glans during non-sexual activities.  It is this lose fold of foreskin that is removed during circumcision, as first established as a covenantal sign between God and Abraham of the Old Testament and his descendents.

3.         Glans – The glans or glans penis, is the enlarged terminal end of the penis containing the urethral opening.

Without becoming too graphic, the male reproductive system and its parts are extremely well designed to carry out their functions as our Lord intended them to from the very beginning in the Garden of Eden.

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