The male reproductive system is less complex than that of the female and the organs that are a part of this system lie chiefly outside the body. If we group the organs by the function they perform, they can be divided as:

  • Gonads: These produce the gamete, (sperm) that is responsible for the process of fertilization, and the male sex hormones that is testosterone
  • Ducts: These store and transport the sperm
  • Accessory sex glands: These produce biological substances that provide nutrition, protect and facilitate the movement of the sperm, and finally
  • Supporting structures: The penis which lies outside and is responsible for the delivery of the sperms


The organs that form the male reproductive system are:

  • The testes
  • A system of ducts that include epididymis, duct deferens, ejaculatory ducts and urethra
  • Accessory sex glands that include seminal vesicles, prostate, bulbourethral glands; and
  • Several supporting structures that include the scrotum and the penis

The testes are responsible for the formation of sperms and the male sex hormone, testosterone. The process of the formation of sperms is referred to as spermatogenesis. It can only occur in cooler temperatures and not the normal human body temperature. This is the reason that the testes descend in each scrotal sac which lies outside the body. The temperature here is several degrees less than the body temperature. The scrotum has a midline septum which provides a compartment for each testis.


Testosterone is the major hormone in males and is responsible for the development of the male characteristics and other reproductive development. The important reproductive functions that testosterone perform are:

  • Masculinizing the reproductive tract and the external genitalia
  • Causes descent of the testes into the scrotum
  • Causes puberty by maturing the reproductive system
  • Maintains reproductive tract throughout adulthood
  • Develops the feeling of libido (sexual urge)
  • Regulates gonadotropin hormone secretion
  • Induces the male characteristic development like growth of beard and other body hair
  • Causes typical male voice by thickening of the vocal folds
  • Promotes muscle growth characteristic of male configuration


The other important non-reproductive functions of testosterone are:

  • Promotes protein anabolism (causing protein formation from simpler molecules called amino acids)
  • Promotes bone growth at puberty
  • May induce aggressive behavior
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Frequently asked questions about Male Reproductive System

What is the function of the Male Reproductive System?

The male reproductive system is less complex than that of the female and the organs that are a part of this system lie chiefly outside the body. If we group the organs by the function they perform, they can be divided as:

  • Gonads: These produce the gamete, (sperm) that is responsible for the process of fertilization, and the male sex hormones that is testosterone
  • Ducts: These store and transport the sperm
  • Accessory sex glands: These produce biological substances that provide nutrition, protect and facilitate the movement of the sperm, and finally

Supporting structures: The penis which lies outside and is responsible for the delivery of the sperms

The organs that form the male reproductive system are:

  • The testes
  • A system of ducts that include epididymis, duct deferens, ejaculatory ducts and urethra
  • Accessory sex glands that include seminal vesicles, prostate, bulbourethral glands; and
  • Several supporting structures that include the scrotum and the penis

The testes are responsible for the formation of sperms and the male sex hormone, testosterone. The process of the formation of sperms is referred to as spermatogenesis. It can only occur in cooler temperatures and not the normal human body temperature. This is the reason that the testes descend in each scrotal sac which lies outside the body. The temperature here is several degrees less than the body temperature. The scrotum has a midline septum which provides a compartment for each testis.

Which are the diseases associated with male reproductive system?

Male Reproductive Issues include:

  • Prostate cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Enlarged prostate or BPH
  • Prostatitis
  • Erectile dysfunction (problems in maintaining erection)
  • Male infertility
  • Testosterone deficiency
  • Undescended testicle
  • Varicocele(dilated vein in the spermatic cord)
  • Hydrocele (fluid filled in the testicle)
What are the common signs and symptoms of male reproductive system disorders?

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Problems with sexual function — for example, difficulty in ejaculation or having very low volumes of ejaculate
  • Decreased libido (reduced sexual desire) or difficulty maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • Pain, swelling or a lump in the testicle area
  • Recurrent respiratory infections
  • Anosmia (Inability to smell)
  • Abnormal breast growth (gynecomastia)
  • Decreased facial or body hair or other signs of a chromosomal or hormonal abnormality
  • Oligospermia (lower sperm count)
What is the doctor that treats male sexual disorders?

Andrology is the medical specialty that deals with male health, particularly relating to the problems of themale reproductive system and urological problems that are unique to men. Urologist usually treats male sexual disorders or a sexologist does that.

When to see a doctor for male fertility problems?

It is advisable to see a doctor if one has been unable to conceive a child after a year of regular, unprotected intercourse or sooner if one has any of the following:

  • Erection or ejaculation problems, decreased libido (reduced sexual drive), or other problems associated with sexual function
  • Pain, discomfort, a lump or swelling in the testicle area
  • A history of testicle, prostate or sexual problems
  • groin, testicle, penis or scrotum surgery

What are the usual causes of male infertility?

The causes for male infertility are:

  • Varicocelewhich is a dilated vein in the spermatic cord
  • Infection
  • Ejaculation issues. One of the most common ejaculation issues is retrograde ejaculation where the ejaculate goes into the bladder rather than coming out. Some of the coexisting conditions that can cause retrograde ejaculation are diabetes, damage to the nervous system such as multiple sclerosis, surgery of the male reproductive organs like prostate, testicles, colon, rectum, bladder or lower spine, some medications like those used for enlarged prostate, antidepressants and antipsychotics
  • Sperm antibodies
  • Cancer of the reproductive organs like the prostate, testes, etc.
  • Undescended testicles
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Defects of tubules that transport sperm. 
  • Chromosome defects. 
  • Problems with sexual intercourse
  • Celiac disease is a digestive disorder caused by sensitivity to gluten, celiac disease can cause male infertility. Fertility may improve after adopting a gluten-free diet.

Environmental causes: Specific causes include:

  • Industrial chemicals. .
  • Heavy metal exposure. 
  • Radiation or X-rays. 
  • Health, lifestyle and other causes

Some other causes of male infertility include smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, emotional stress, and lifestyle problems

What are the risk factors associated with male infertility?

Risk factors linked to male infertility include:

  • Smoking or alcohol consumption
  • Illicit drug use
  • obesity
  • mental problems like depression or over stress
  • infections
  • exposure to toxins
  • increased temperature of testicles
  • trauma to the testicles
  • prior surgeries like vasectomy
  • cryptorchidism (undescended testicles)
  • Being born with a fertility disorder or having a blood relative with a fertility disorder
  • Certain medical conditions like sickle cell disease
  • Cancer treatments like radiation or chemotherapy
Does a man go through menopause?

Male menopause is a condition that affects older men. It carries a set of symptoms that are linked to declining testosterone levels and aging. It is also referred to as andropause, androgen decline in the aging male, late onset hypogonadism and low testosterone.

Can male menopause be treated?

If testosterone levels are low, hormone replacement therapy may help relieve symptoms, such as decreased libido (reduced sexual desire), depression, and fatigue.If testosterone levels are low, testosterone replacement therapy may help relieve such symptoms as loss of interest in sex (decreased libido), depression, and fatigue. 

What are the main functions of male sex hormones?

 The main male sex hormone is testosterone. It is responsible for the characteristics 

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Many conditions and diseases can affect the male reproductive system. These include:
Conditions involving the penis : These include:

  • Congenital anomalies that is those present at birth. The main congenital conditions are:

Abnormal openings in the penis. These are hypospadias where the opening is on the ventral surface and epispadias where the opening is on the dorsal surface.

Phimosis which is the narrowing of the opening of the foreskin in a way that it cannot be retracted.

  • Conditions that cause inflammation of the penis. These involve the glans and prepuce and include a wide variety of specific and non-specific infections. The specific infections are mostly the sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and include syphilis, gonorrhoea, chancroid, granuloma inguinale, lymphopathiavenerea, genital herpes, etc. The non-specific infection is mostly balanoposthitis. This refers to the infection of the glans and prepuce that is caused by a variety of microorganisms. The common ones include Candida albicans, anaerobic bacteria, Gardnerella, and pyogenic bacteria. These infections are mostly caused by poor local hygiene of uncircumcised males, in whom the accumulation of desquamated epithelial cells, sweat and debris, termed smegma, acts as a local irritant.
  • Tumors of the penis. These are mostly common and the most frequent encountered are squamous cell carcinoma and benign genital warts (condylomaacuminatum). Peyronie disease is another disease that occurs in the penis. It is reactive rather than neoplastic and is characterized by penile plaques that result from the deposition of collagen in the connective tissue between the corpus cavernosa and the tunica albuginea.


Conditions involving the testis: These include:

  • Congenital anomalies: The main disease that fall under this category is cryptorchidism. It is a complete or partial failure of the intra-abdominal testes to descend into the scrotal sac and is associated with testicular dysfunction and an increased risk of testicular cancer.
  • Testicular cancer: It is a very rare cancer and can occur in the age range of 15-49 years. It can last for several months or years and can be life-threatening.
  • Hydrocele is a condition where the scrotal sac swells due to accumulation of fluid. Chylocele is a condition where lymph accumulates and is usually found in patients with elephantiasis having widespread, severe lymphatic obstruction. Spermatocele refers to the cystic accumulation of semen in dilated efferent ducts or ducts of the rete testis. Varicocele is a dilated vein in the spermatic cord. 


Conditions involving the epididymis:These usually include the inflammatory disorders that occur in the epididymis. Several, including tuberculosis and gonorrhoea, arise first in the epididymis and only involve in the testis secondarily. Epididymitis and subsequent orchitis are commonly related to infections in the urinary tract which reach the epididymis and the testis through the vas deferens or the lymphatics of the spermatic cord. 
Neglected gonococcal infection can cause infection of the epididymis. When tuberculosis affects the male genital tract, epididymis is the first organ that gets affected. Syphilis also affects the epididymis but testis involvement precedes the epididymis.


Conditions involving the prostate: These usually include:
  • Prostatitis: The common causes are bacterial infections, non-bacterial or granulomatous which may be a result of an infection. The other rare forms are autoimmune prostatitis caused by adenovirus or IgG4 mediated. 
  • Benign enlargement: The most common disease is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) and is the most common benign prostatic disease in men older than 50 years.
  • Prostate cancer: The adenocarcinoma of the prostate is the most common neoplasm in men. Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of death due to cancer in men around the world. The incidence rate is 20% in men in their 50s and increases to approximately 70% in men aged between 70-80 years.


The symptoms vary according to the disease. Commonly encountered symptoms are:
  • Problems with sexual function:  difficulty with ejaculation or small volumes of fluid ejaculated, reduced sexual desire, or difficulty maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • Pain, swelling or a lump in the testicle area.
  • Recurrent respiratory infections.
  • Inability to smell.
  • Abnormal breast growth (gynecomastia)
  • Decreased facial or body hair or other signs of a chromosomal or hormonal abnormality
  • A lower than normal sperm count (fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen or a total sperm count of less than 39 million per ejaculate)
  • Diagnosis may involve semen testing,hormone testing, genital ultrasound and genetic testing.
  • Treatments include medications or surgery. IVF (in vitro fertilisatsion)is also an option. Treatment for testicular cancer is surgical removal, chemotherapy, radiation therapy.
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