Sem­i­nal vesi­cles: clubs, coils and jelly

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health -

What are they? A pair of club-shaped glands that sit be­hind the blad­der in men. There are two (left and right) and they each con­sist of a sin­gle, coiled tube. They are about 5cm long, but be­cause they are so con­vo­luted they are ac­tu­ally 10-15cm long when un­coiled. Why the name? Sem­i­nal is the ad­jec­tive of se­men, which lit­er­ally means ‘‘ seed’’ and vesi­cle is from the Latin for blad­der, ie a sac. What do they do? They make a sticky, yel­low­ish se­cre­tion that ex­its the gland into the tube that car­ries sperm from the tes­ti­cles, and so is mixed with the sperm to form se­men. This se­cre­tion makes up about two-thirds of the vol­ume of se­men. It con­tains sub­stances that give the sperm en­ergy for its ar­du­ous swim up the fe­male re­pro­duc­tive tract, such as the sweet sugar fruc­tose. It also con­tains semino­gelin, a jelly-like sub­stance that holds the sperm to­gether at ejac­u­la­tion.

Il­lus­tra­tion: Nathalie Gar­cia

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