Learning About the Male Reproductive System

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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.
  • Testicles. This is where sperm is made.
  • The scrotum. This is a sac at the base of the penis that holds the testicles.
  • Epididymides. This is where the sperm mature.
  • Seminal vesicles and the prostate gland. They make the liquid semen that carries the sperm.
  • The vas deferens tubes. These carry semen to the urethra and out of 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, penis, or prostate.

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.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.