Understanding the Male Reproductive System

How does the male reproductive system work? Discover how these body parts impact fertility below.

The male reproductive system includes the following organs and glands:


  • Contains the testes, the sperm producing organs
  • The location of the scrotum, outside the body, behind the penis, help to maintain the temperature, ensuring normal sperm production.


  • Long coiled tube that lies beside and behind the testes
  • Helps sperm mature fully (after the seminiferous tubules) and transports them to the vas deferens
  • Sperm remain here for 2-12 days

Vas Deferens

  • Long tube with thick walls, it runs from the end of the epididymis upward into the pelvis behind the bladder.

Seminal Vesicles

  • Contribute the seminal fluid and produce the sugar fructose, which the sperm use to fuel their long journey

Prostate Gland

  • Contribute additional fluid and important enzymes that cause semen to liquefy after ejaculation

Cowper’s Glands

  • Located beyond the prostate at the base of the penile shaft in the urethra
  • Adds a small amount of lubricant to the seminal fluid before ejaculation takes place


  • The penis allows the man to deposit the seminal fluid into the vagina.


  • Oval glands located within the scrotum
  • Produce testosterone
  • Produce sperm cells

Leydig Cells

  • Produce testosterone

Sertoli Cells

  • Produce growth factors that nourish sperm.

Seminiferous Tubules

  • Store sperm for about 3 months
  • This is where sperm begin to mature