Glossary

MALE ANATOMY & VASECTOMY GLOSSARY

Bulbourethral glands (Cowper’s glands)
A pair of pea sized glands below the prostate with ducts opening into the urethra, which adds a viscous (sticky) fluid to the semen. These glands are also called Cowper’s glands after the anatomist, William Cowper.

Ejaculation
The discharge of sperm and seminal fluid during an orgasm in a male.  The typical volume of the ejaculate is 2 to 6cc.

Ejaculatory duct
Canal in the male formed by the junction of the seminal vesicle ducts with the vas deferens that passes through the prostate and empties into the urethra to allow semen to be ejaculated.

Epididymis
The epididymis is a structure within the scrotum where sperm is stored and matures. One epididymis is attached to the back side of each testicle, the end of which forms the vas deferens.

No Needle/No Scalpel Vasectomy
A revolutionary approach that does not involve a needle or scalpel. Instead of feeling discomfort from a needle to inject a local anesthetic, the “No-Needle Anesthetic” passes Novocain with a “jet” injector so no needle ever penetrates a patient’s skin.  The “No Scalpel” procedure employs a special instrument (not a scalpel) to make a single small skin opening through which the urologist can perform the vasectomy procedure.

Penis
A male organ that is comprised of erectile tissue covered with skin that contains the urethra for urination, ducts for the secretion of seminal fluid (semen) for reproduction and erectile tissue that fills with blood to cause an erection.  The urethra is the passageway for both urine and semen.

Peyronie’s Disease
The development of plaques or scar tissue inside the penis that causes penile curvature and painful erections.

Prepuce
In males the prepuce is foreskin covering the glans penis.  It is removed during a circumcision. (Dr. Robert Pugach performs adult men circumcisions,)

Prostate
A gland in men, the size and shape of a walnut after puberty that surrounds the urethra at the base of the bladder.  It controls release of urine from the bladder and the flow of semen and prevents the two from mixing.

Scrotum
In males the scrotum is the external sac of skin that encloses the testes. The function of the scrotum is to keep the testicles at a temperature slightly lower than that of the rest of the body.

Semen
Semen is a mixture of sperm and seminal fluid.  Sperm typically makes up about 1% of the total volume.  Each cc of semen can contain up to 100 million sperm cells.

Seminal Vesicles
Two saclike glands located on each side of the male bladder that secrete fluid responsible for the propagation of sperm through the urethra.

Sperm 

The male gamete (reproductive cells) which are produced in the testes and travel through a man’s  reproductive system. At fertilization, one sperm of the roughly 300 million in an average ejaculation fertilizes the female egg to produce a pregnancy.

Testicle
A testicle is one of two male reproductive glands that produce sperm and the male hormone testosterone. It is also known as the testis. Both testicles are held in the scrotum.

Urethra
The canal through which urine is released from the bladder and through which semen is discharged in men.

Varicocele
An abnormal enlargement of the veins within the scrotum, similar to a varicose vein that can occur in your leg.  The varicocele can elevate the temperature around the testicle, causing low sperm production leading to infertility or pain. A varicocele can also cause testicles to shrink and produce less testosterone.  (For more information contact the Male Health and Hormone Center at Pacific Coast Urology Medical Center.)

Vas Deferens
The vas deferens is one of two small muscular tubes that connect to the ejaculatory ducts in the prostate and carry sperm from the testicles.  Also referred to as the vas, each tube is approximately 14 inches long by 0.1 inch wide. The vas deferens functions as a conduit to carry sperm from the testes out through the penis via the urethra. .

Vasectomy
The closing of the vas deferens as a means of male sterilization. A vasectomy is performed on adult males during which each vas deferens is cut and sealed.  The ejaculate no longer contains sperm after the tubes are cut and post vasectomy semen samples show a successful result.  Conception cannot occur but the testicles continue to have the potential to produce sperm if the vasectomy is reversed within several years.

Vasectomy Reversal
Vasectomy is the process in which the tube carrying sperm from the testicles, which is cut and sealed during a vasectomy, is re-opened and re-connected.  It is a delicate micro-surgical procedure (done using an operating microscope) that requires up to 4 hours of operating time.  Success rates vary according to the time that has elapsed from a patient’s vasectomy to the time of a vasectomy reversal.