Prostate gland is an exocrine gland, present in the human male reproductive system. Exocrine glands, as opposed to endocrine glands, supply their secretions in ducts, which are directly released in the surrounding environment. Human females do not possess prostate glands. This article will give information about prostate gland function and its structure.
Prostate Gland Structure
The prostate gland is a walnut-sized muscular organ, which is located in front of rectum and is situated just below the bladder in male humans. Since, the gland surrounds urethra and is below urinary bladder, it can be felt in course of a rectal exam. It is the only exocrine gland which is situated along the mid-line in humans. Let us go into more details about the structure, before going in to prostate gland function.
The prostate gland is actually made up of a bunch of minuscule glands, surrounded by a fibrous sheathing tissue called the prostatic capsule. This capsule is surrounded by a protective layer of fat. The prostate gland ducts have an interior lining of transitional epithelium. The urethra, which is a duct coming from the bladder, merges with twin ejaculatory ducts in the prostate. The urethra in males serves a dual purpose. It carries urine from the bladder and also carries semen during the period of ejaculation, through penis. Semen is the sperm carrying, sexual fluid in humans. The prostate gland is encased in pelvic muscles, which contract and aid the ejaculatory process.
Proper functioning of the male prostate gland is dependent on male hormones like testosterone. The prostate gland starts growing during puberty in males and keeps growing throughout the life, though its rate of growth slows down after 25 years of age. Many prostate problems in men are caused due to its enlargement.
Function of Prostate Gland
Now that we know something about the structure, let us know the function of prostate gland and why it plays such an important role in the male reproductive mechanism. Here are some points that enumerate the function of the prostate gland in totality.
Aids Sperm Motility and Survival
One prostate gland function is most vital for human reproduction. It mixes the sperm containing fluid created in the testicles, with a prostate secretion containing citric acid, enzymes and calcium. This fluid secretion is added to the semen before ejaculation. It also contains the enzyme Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) which aids in liquefying the semen after ejaculation. This fluid makes the semen alkaline, which protects the sperms from hostile acidic environment, on vaginal entry during intercourse. The addition of this secretion to the semen, thus, aids sperm mobility and survival, ultimately increasing the chances of fertility.
Helps Propel Semen Fluid
Second important prostate gland function is propelling the semen fluid out through the penis, during the male orgasm. The prostate gland has muscles which aid the propulsion of semen.
Controls and Prevents Urine Entry During Ejaculation
The third important prostate function is controlling the flow of urine during ejaculation. A complex system of valves in the prostate, sends the semen into the urethra during ejaculatory process and a prostate muscle called the sphincter seals the bladder, thereby preventing urine entry into the urethra.
The prostate gland is thus one of the most important exocrine glands of the body. Men in the post-fifty age group are often susceptible to problems associated with an enlarged prostate. Prostate cancer is another problem to which, many men in this age group are vulnerable to. One therefore needs to be aware about prostate health maintenance. Hope this article has given you a clear idea about prostate gland function and its vital role in male reproductive system.