Accessory Glands

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There are three sets of accessory glands in the male reproductive system: the seminal vesicles, prostate gland, and bulbourethral glands:

1. The seminal vesicles are a pair of glands posterior to the urinary bladder; one is associated with each ductus deferens. A seminal vesicle is about 5 cm long, or approximately the dimensions of your little finger. It has a connective tissue capsule and underlying layer of smooth muscle. The secretory portion is a very convoluted duct with numerous branches that form a complex labyrinth. The duct empties into the ejaculatory duct. The yellowish secretion of the seminal vesicles constitutes about 60% of the semen; its composition and functions are discussed later.

2. The prostate23 (PROSS-tate) gland surrounds the urethra and ejaculatory duct immediately inferior to

23pro = before + stat = to stand; commonly misspelled and mispronounced "prostrate"

Saladin: Anatomy & I 27. The Male Reproductive I Text I © The McGraw-Hill

Physiology: The Unity of System Companies, 2003 Form and Function, Third Edition the urinary bladder. It measures about 2 by 4 by 3 cm and is an aggregate of 30 to 50 compound tubuloacinar glands enclosed in a single fibrous capsule. These glands empty through about 20 pores in the urethral wall. The stroma of the prostate consists of connective tissue and smooth muscle, like that of the seminal vesicles. The thin, milky secretion of the prostate contributes about 30% of the semen. Its functions, too, are considered later. The position of the prostate immediately anterior to the rectum allows it to be palpated through the rectal wall to check for lumps suggestive of prostate cancer. This procedure is known as digital rectal examination (DRE) (see insight 27.2).

3. The bulbourethral (Cowper24) glands are named for their position near a dilated bulb at the inner end of the penis and their short (2.5 cm) ducts leading into the penile urethra. They are brownish, spherical glands about 1 cm in diameter. During sexual arousal, they produce a clear slippery fluid that lubricates the head of the penis in preparation for intercourse. Perhaps more importantly, though, it neutralizes the acidity of residual urine in the urethra, which would be harmful to the sperm.

Insight 27.2 Clinical Application

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  • bildad goodbody
    Which accessory gland surrounds the urethra inferior to the urinary bladder?
    6 years ago

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