Bulbourethral Gland: The bulbourethral glands are also called the Cowper’s glands. Similar to the other accessory glands, secretions of the Cowper’s glands also contribute to the semen. It adds substances rich in mucus which help in lubrication during sexual intercourse. The secretion helps by neutralizing the acidity in the urethra as a result of the passage of urine. This, in turn, makes the urethra more hospitable for the sperm in terms of its travel and survival.
The paired bulbourethral glands are roughly the size of a pea and are located in the deep perineal pouch. They are at the base of the penis and are lateral (to the side) and posterior to (behind) the urethra, which is the tube through which semen and urine exit the body.
They are exocrine glands with approximately 2.5 cm ducts that pass through the perineal membrane and into the nearby portion of the spongy urethra. When sexually aroused, the glands produce a mucous-like fluid called pre-ejaculate. The pre-ejaculate fluid is a viscous, clear, and salty liquid that neutralizes any residual acidity in the urethra. The now neutralized urethra is a more hospitable (as opposed to harmful) environment for the sperm to travel in.
Function of Bulbourethral Gland
- The Bulbourethral Gland function to lubricate the spongy urethra for the passage of the ejaculate.
- Due to the alkaline pH of the excreted fluid, they also act to neutralize residual acidic urine that remains in the spongy urethra.
- This gland is also responsible for the production of prostate specific antigen; this component is important for a common test used to screen and assess the progression of prostate cancer. The combined fluid output of these glands is 5% of the total ejaculate volume.
- Upon sexual excitement, the Cowpers Gland typically secrete clear glycoproteins into the bulbous urethra (proximal part of the spongy urethra).
- The function of the glands and other supportive male sexual structures depend on normal testicular development and function.
- It also secrete other substances during sexual stimulation such as an alkaline fluid that helps in neutralizing the acidity of urine and of the vagina, and provides lubrication to for the passage of ejaculate. This fluid is known as pre-ejaculate. In a minority of men, sperm can be present in the pre-ejaculate.
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By Team Learning Mantras