Learning About the Male Reproductive System

Male genitals

What does the male reproductive system do?

The male reproductive system makes sperm and delivers it out of the body. It allows a man to have sex and father children.

This system is made up of:

  • The penis.
  • Two testicles (one on each side). This is where sperm is made.
  • The scrotum. This is a sac at the base of the penis that holds the testicles.
  • The epididymis, where the sperm mature. There is one on each side.
  • Two seminal vesicles and the prostate gland. They make the liquid semen that carries the sperm.
  • Two vas deferens tubes, one on each side of the body. They carry semen to the urethra. That's where it leaves the penis during sex.

What problems can happen with the reproductive system?

Problems may include:

  • Injuries to the genitals. This could happen when you play sports, do other activities, or take a fall.
  • Infections of the testicle (orchitis), epididymis (epididymitis), prostate gland (prostatitis), or other areas.
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). These include chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, and gonorrhea.
  • Sperm problems. They could cause you to be infertile.
  • Erection problems (impotence or erectile dysfunction).
  • Torsion of a testicle. This emergency happens when a testicle twists in the scrotum. The twisting can cut off its blood supply.
  • Cancer of the testicle or prostate gland.

How can you prevent reproductive system problems?

  • If you play contact sports, make sure to wear a cup or other protection for your genitals.
  • Having one sex partner (who does not have STIs and does not have sex with anyone else) is a good way to avoid STIs.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can lower your overall sexual health. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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