Anatomy and Physiology of the Male Reproductive System Gametes are the reproductive cells that combine to form offspring. Organs called gonads produce the gametes, along with the hormones that regulate human reproduction.
The male gametes are called sperm. Spermatogenesis, the production of sperm, occurs within the seminiferous tubules that make up most of the testis. The scrotum is the muscular sac that holds the testes outside of the body cavity.
Spermatogenesis begins with the mitotic division of spermatogonia (stem cells) to produce primary spermatocytes that undergo the two divisions of meiosis to become secondary spermatocytes, then the haploid spermatids. During spermiogenesis, spermatids are transformed into spermatozoa (formed sperm).
Upon release from the seminiferous tubules, sperm are moved to the epididymis where they continue to mature. During ejaculation, sperm exit the epididymis through the ductus deferens, a duct in the spermatic cord that leaves the scrotum.
The ampulla of the ductus deferens meets the seminal vesicle, a gland that contributes fructose and proteins, at the ejaculatory duct. The fluid continues through the prostatic urethra, where secretions from the prostate are added to form semen.
These secretions help the sperm to travel through the urethra and into the female reproductive tract. Secretions from the bulbourethral glands protect sperm and cleanse and lubricate the penile (spongy) urethra.
The penis is the male organ of copulation. Columns of erectile tissue called the corpora cavernosa and corpus spongiosum fill with blood when sexual arousal activates vasodilatation in the blood vessels of the penis. Testosterone regulates and maintains the sex organs and sex drive, and induces the physical changes of puberty. The interplay between the testes and the endocrine system precisely controls the production of testosterone with a negative feedback loop.
27.2 Anatomy and Physiology of the Female Reproductive System The external female genitalia are collectively called the vulva. The vagina is the pathway into and out of the uterus. The man’s penis is inserted into the vagina to deliver sperm, and the baby exits the uterus through the vagina during childbirth.
The ovaries produce oocytes, the female gametes, in a process called oogenesis. As with spermatogenesis, meiosis produces the haploid gamete (in this case, an ovum); however, it is completed only in an oocyte that has been penetrated by a sperm.
In the ovary, an oocyte surrounded by supporting cells is called a follicle. In folliculogenesis, primordial follicles develop into primary, secondary, and tertiary follicles.
Early tertiary follicles with their fluid-filled antrum will be stimulated by an increase in FSH, a gonadotropin produced by the anterior pituitary, to grow in the 28-day ovarian cycle.