Male Sexuality Facts

Facts, Theories, And Information on Male Sexuality:
The Internal Sexual Anatomy Of Men

Male Sexual Anatomy ] [ Internal Sexual Anatomy Of Men ]

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Epididymes

On the upper portion of each testicle you can feel a slight ridge. This is the epididymis. It is a tightly coiled tube, which adheres to the surface of each testicle and acts as a maturation and storage chamber for newly developed sperm as they move out of the seminiferous tubules.

Sperm stay in the epididymes until they break down and are absorbed by the surrounding tissue or until they are ejaculated.

Vasa Deferentia

Attached to the epididymis on each testicle is a narrow tube called a vas deferens. Each vas is approximately 16 to 18 inches long, and sperm move along the vas to the seminal vesicle. Sperm mix with fluids from the seminal vesicle and prostate gland, forming a new substance, semen. This is what a man ejaculates.

 Since the vasa deferentia carry sperm and are easily found in the scrotum, they are ideal places for the simple male sterilization procedure called vasectomy.

To perform a vasectomy, a surgeon cuts both vasa, one on each side of the scrotum, and ties them, or a piece of tube is removed preventing sperm from traveling beyond that point.

Sperm are still produced in the testicles and move through the epididymes, but they cannot get beyond the point of surgery and therefore they cannot leave the body to create a pregnancy. They break down and are absorbed just like all the other sperm that are not ejaculated.

After a vasectomy the fluids from the seminal vesicle and prostate continue to be produced, and they leave the body during intercourse, masturbation or wet dreams; orgasm feels exactly the same. The absence of sperm in the semen is impossible to detect except under a microscope.

On occasion, ejaculatory dysfunction may be caused by an infection of the Vas Deferens or other parts of the reproductive tract.

Seminal Vesicles

Located just above and on each side of the prostate gland, are two seminal vesicles. They are pouches about three inches long that secrete a sugar-like fluid (fructose).

This seminal fluid joins sperm (which have now moved from the testicles through the epididymes and vasa deferentia) and fluid from the prostate gland in the ejaculatory duct, from where the semen (as it now is) is passed to the urethra and out of the penis.

The seminal vesicle fluid provides nutrition for the sperm, and enables them to move more effectively. It is suggested that the fructose in an ordinary ejaculation of semen provides it with a nutritional value of approximately 6 calories!

Prostate Gland

The prostate gland is located below the bladder and rests against neck. The prostate is the size of a large chestnut, and consists of a number of sections called lobes.

The urethra, the tube which allows urine pass from the bladder, where it is stored, runs through the prostate gland into the penis. If the prostate gland swells, it can press on and shut off neck of the bladder or the urethra itself. In these cases, medical attention is required immediately.

 From puberty on, the prostate secretes a substance which, like the fluid from the seminal vesicle, aids in the nutrition of the sperm and tributes to the sperm's ability to move on its own.

The fluid from the prostate gland makes up approximately 95 percent of the semen, fluid from the seminal vesicle contributes about four percent; only about one percent of is sperm.

Prostate fluid is secreted through the gland's many passageways to the urethra, where it joins with the sperm and seminal fluid flowing from the ejaculatory duct. The semen is now complete and ready be ejaculated.

Most men know they have a prostate gland, but they take no notice of it. It is small, hidden and it functions. But when a problem occurs the prostate can become very important indeed and can cause a radical upset a man's life.

If surgery is required to correct a prostate difficulty, there are two problems: a man may become impotent, or he may become sterile.

As a society, we have traditionally had a penis-centric view of human sexuality. We have placed enormous importance on penis as the center of male sexuality. The penis, for us, is the symbol of manhood.

It is what gives a man the right to claim he is a man. It is seen the center of gratification, both for himself and for any partners he may have. If the penis no longer works, if the man becomes impotent and cannot get an erection, the traditional view is that he is only half a man.

This traditional view ignores the greater part of what we know now about male sexuality; nevertheless, we all feel its pressure.

Few men, however relaxed and understanding they may be about their sexuality, are immune to the feeling that if they become impotent their maleness has been reduced. As a society, we also place great importance not so much on fatherhood as on the ability to father a child. Because we have traditionally seen the to impregnate a woman ability as a proper, natural, normal part of being masculine, sterility and the inability to father a child has come to imply that a sterile man, though not so reduced as an impotent man, is still not a complete man; he lacks what is regarded as an essential element of maleness.

It is true that both men and women come to appreciate that intimacy and loving can be expressed without an erect penis ejaculating healthy sperm.

 Nonetheless, many men who undergo prostate surgery have difficulty in facing up to their new state.

A sympathetic partner and professional counseling are both helpful and important, but the man is still likely to feel both inadequate and humiliated.

If a prostate operation has the effect of making a man impotent, not only does he have to deal with the consequences for his ability to relate sexually but he also has to deal with the blow to his self-esteem.

His partner, however, has to deal not only with both those things, but will have to help discover new ways that the couple can express their sexuality if things go well, and deal with anger, resentment, depression and withdrawal if they don't.

Partner: "After he came home from the hospital, I thought sex would be fine once he was fully recovered. The first few times he didn't get an erection I thought he was just nervous and worried about hurting himself. Then he started avoiding closeness and sex completely. I tried not to make a big deal about it, but we can't go on like this. I wonder, maybe I don't turn him on anymore."

Patient: "When I went to a prostate clinic to have my prostate removed I really didn't think too much about whether my sex life would be changed. I was just glad they got to the problem before it got real serious. Boy, was I surprised when I couldn't get an erection. It was on my mind all the time, and the harder I tried the worse it got.

So I started avoiding sex if I could. Things really got confused in my relationship. I know my partner felt rejected and angry, but I just couldn't talk about it. Finally, I went to the doctor and was told that the surgery was responsible for my problem. My doctor said we discussed the possibility of this happening but I guess I didn't want to hear it.

Anyway, the problem hasn't changed. What kind of a man am I now? How can I have sex without an erection?"

It is clear that more medical information about the possible sexual consequences of a prostate operation needs to be provided, both to the patient and to his partner, before the operation is performed.

 If the patient is adversely affected by the operation, it is appropriate for his medical adviser to help the couple explore alternative ways of expressing intimacy - the genitals are not the only way of giving and receiving, as many couples have found.

It is, however, difficult for many people who have always thought of their genitals as the principal - indeed the essential - way to express their sexuality to come to terms with non-genital sexual expression. They need re-education. They also need willingness to communicate openly and to experiment in their search for a new pattern of fulfillment.

It can be done, but many people fall into the trap of silence, defensiveness, resentment and withdrawal. This only worsens the situation, for it strains the relationship more and more as each partner withdraws into sexual solitude and frustration, rather than reaching out to each other for shared pleasuring and fulfillment.

Prostatitis

Swelling, irritation or infection of the prostate can cause difficulty on a single occasion or for a short period (acute prostatitis) or it may be long term (chronic prostatitis). Infection or irregular patterns of ejaculation may be responsible, and may be treated by natural prostate remedies and prostate massage.

To massage the prostate, a physician inserts a finger in the rectum and massages the gland to cause any accumulated fluid to be passed out of the urethra. This is uncomfortable, but men who resent the discomfort should be grateful that they are not living in ancient Egypt.

There the treatment for prostatitis was to push a thin reed up the urethra to pass the blockage: a distinctly more painful process than massage.

Cancer of the prostate is a common form of cancer in men, and has been increasing over the past ten years. It is most likely to occur in men aged over 60.

Surgical removal of the entire prostate or a part of it can have an effect on a man's sexual activity, and the physician must present this possibility to the patient and to the patient's partner.

Q. "What is a prostate operation?"

A: "Surgery to remove the prostate gland or part of the prostate gland is called prostatectomy. A prostatectomy is sometimes performed when the prostate is cancerous.

The cause of prostate cancer is unknown, but we do know that it is not related to too little or too much sexual interest or activity. It is very important that no-one should have a prostate operation on the basis of one diagnosis only - a second opinion should always be sought."

Q. "How do they get the prostate out?"

A: "There are three ways: the prostate can be removed through a small opening in the abdomen between the navel and the pubic bone (the retropubic method); a diseased portion can be taken out through the urinary opening (the transurethral method); the whole prostate is still sometimes removed through the area between the scrotum and rectum (the perineal method).

The procedure used depends on the extent of the problem and best way to get at the diseased prostate. The decision to perform surgery is made after several tests, including a biopsy, in which a piece of prostate tissue is studied under a microscope."

Q. "Can you still get a hard-on after a prostate operation?"

A: "It depend on the type of surgery and the extent of the tissue removal. If the surgeon has to remove the entire prostate gland and the capsule that surrounds it and take them out, important nerves and muscles will most likely be cut or damaged and the patient will be unable either to achieve an erection or to ejaculate.

Although in this case the impotence will be due to physical and not emotional problems, most men find impotence, regardless of its cause, extremely threatening and humiliating condition, even though they have previously been informed by their physician that impotence is a probability."

Q. "Are there any other problems with sex after a prostate operation? "

A: "Frequently after a prostatectomy, semen will be ejaculated backward into the bladder and not out of the penis. This backward movement of semen is called a 'dry come' or retrograde ejaculation, and is the result of the sphincters in that area working improperly after the surgery. Sexual excitement, erection and orgasm remain the same even if retrograde ejaculation occurs.

"Retrograde ejaculation causes sterility since the semen doesn't come out of the penis. There have however been cases in which sperm taken from a man (after urination) has been placed in a women's uterus by artificial insemination and a natural pregnancy has resulted."

Q. "Can you pass prostatitis on to your sex partner?"

A: "If the prostatitis is caused by bacteria, a woman may contract an inflammation or irritation of the vagina (vaginitis), or an inflammation of the urinary opening, the urethra (urethritis). Use of a condom will allow sexual activity to continue and avoid the possibility of infection.

There is no evidence of oral or anal infection being caused through contact with a man who has prostatitis unless he has some other sexually transmissible infection, such as gonorrhea."

Q: "Is surgery the only treatment for a cancerous prostate?"

A: "No. Estrogen (female hormone) therapy is often used and so are X-ray and radiation therapy. Also, nowadays, high frequency ultrasound is used as well. These methods are likely to be used in conjunction with surgery."

Perhaps because the prostate is hidden away and yet is very important to men's sexual activity, numerous falsehoods have grown up around it, such as:

  • once you have a prostate problem your sex life is over

  • prostate problems are caused by too much masturbation

  • wearing an athletic supporter too long causes prostate problems

  • prostate problems are caused by not enough intercourse.

The prostate of a young boy is very small and inactive. At puberty, under the influence of greatly increased secretions of testosterone, it increases in size and begins its production of fluid. Thereafter, the prostate is unlikely to cause any difficulty until middle age.

The prostate thickens gradually as a man gets older, especially affecting sex in midlife or so. This is quite natural, and probably results from the drop in testosterone levels which is a standard feature of this age. Enlargement of the prostate may follow, however, particularly affecting sex after age 60.

This is known as BPH or benign prostatic hyperplasia, a symptom of which is more frequent urination, particularly at night. It does not affect desire or sexual ability, but if urination stops completely, or if pain occurs when urinating, a doctor, usually a urologist, should be contacted immediately.

It is very important for men over 40 to have their prostate examined by a physician each year. This examination is done by the physician inserting a finger in the rectum and feeling (palpating) the surface of the prostate for lumps or other unusual surfaces.

Q: "Can young men have prostate problems?"

A: "Yes. Prostate problems generally affect men aged 50 and over, but occasionally a teenager or a man in his 20s or 30s can have a prostate problem. Usually it will be bacterial or congestive prostatitis and will be treated by antibiotics or prostate massage respectively."

Yeast infections

Men are subject to yeast infections in the skin of the penis, just as women are in the region of the vulva. These infections are caused by an overgrowth of the yeast organism, Candida albicans, which occurs naturally on the skin of the penis in the genital region.

When the bacteria which hold it in check die for some reason - such as prolonged use of antibiotics - the yeast cells may grow uninhibited and cause a severe skin reaction - red rash, itching and even discharge from the penis.

The cures for yeast infection range from over-the-counter medication to home remedies for yeast infection. Consult your doctor for more advice.

Ejaculatory Ducts

Within the prostate gland, the ends of the vasa deferentia join the seminal vesicles to form the ejaculatory ducts.

The ducts are about an inch long and lead to the urethra.

During sexual intercourse, semen collects in this area and when excitation reaches its peak, a spinal reflex causes rhythmic contractions in the general area and propels the semen out of the urethra in spurts.

This process is called ejaculation, and once a man reaches a certain point of excitation he can no longer resist ejaculating.

There are generally between three and eight spurts within a few seconds. Linked with ejaculation, but separate from it, is the subjective feeling of orgasm.

Orgasm is that intensely personal, pleasurable kind of explosion or release flooding through the body.

 Orgasm is in fact the release of neuromuscular tensions that have been built up during sexual stimulation.

Cowper's Glands

On each side of the urethra, just below the prostate, are Cowper's glands. During sexual arousal, but before ejaculation, these tiny glands secrete a small amount of fluid into the urethra which comes through the urinary opening and appears on and around the top of the penis.

This small amount of fluid from Cowper's glands contains enough sperm to cause a pregnancy, even though no ejaculation has occurred.

Therefore, pulling the penis out of the vagina before ejaculation is not a method of birth control, since the fluid from Cowper's glands is present from sexual arousal on. Cowper's gland fluid is alkaline; this may help neutralize the acid climate of the urethra and enable the sperm to live longer once they have been ejaculated.

Urethra

The male urethra is about eight inches long and runs from the bottom or neck of the bladder, through the prostate, and through the length of the penis. The urethra has two functions: to allow urine to flow from the bladder out of the penis and to allow semen to be ejaculated.

Q. "Sometimes after I come, I urinate in a double stream. Do I have a disease?"

A: "No. Some men urinate in a double stream immediately after intercourse because some semen has remained in the urethra or on the end of the penis and dried across the urethral opening."