The urinary system is also referred to as renal or genitourinary system. The major organs of this system are the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. These organs along with a few other organs in the human body try to keep the body free of toxic substances. The other organs are lungs, skin, and intestines. The digestion of food produces waste materials such as solid waste, urea, uric acid, etc., which must be excreted. The urinary system helps the body eliminate the liquid waste called urea, and maintains a balance between water and minerals such as, potassium and sodium. The poisonous gas, like carbon dioxide, which is a by-product of metabolism activities at the cell level, is exhaled out of our body by the lungs. The skin pores help get rid of the waste materials by letting the sweat out of our body.
Organs in Genitourinary System
- Two kidneys
- Two ureters
- Urethra, in adult females, is shorter than the adult males and is about 1.5 inches long.
- Urethra, in adult males, is approximately, 8 inches in length and extends from the bladder into the penis.
The organs perform specialized functions. This increases the efficiency of the overall system. Let's see, what are the system's functions, starting with the kidneys.
Functions of the Kidneys
These are situated on the left and the right side of the body, just below the ribs. They acts as the filtration system of the body and clean the blood of the toxic materials. The following are the functions of this organ:
- Kidneys play a vital role in the regulation of the blood pressure. They do this either by eliminating water from the blood or by conserving it.
- They secrete an enzyme called renin, which acts as a stimulator for the activation of the angiotensin-aldosterone pathway. This pathway plays an important role in controlling the blood pressure.
- They regulate the pH of the blood.
- They also regulate the number of free radials of different elements such as Na+, etc., in the blood.
- They secrete erythropoietin, a hormone, which stimulates the production of red-blood cells.
- They manufacture vitamin D.
- They filter blood and separate toxic substances such as bilirubin, ammonia, and creatinine. They also filter and separate chemicals that are not indigenous to the body, such as pharmaceutical drugs, and toxic substances such as lead and mercury.
Functions of Other Organs of the Urinary System
A ureter leads from each kidney to the bladder. Urine, which is the output of the kidneys, is transported by ureters to the bladder where it is stored before being excreted in the process of micturition or urination.
- The urethra is responsible for the actual passage of urine out of the body.
- The bladder is a hollow-muscular organ which stores as much as 2 cups of urine.
- The longitudinal muscles of the bladder contract to expel the urine out.
- The connection between the urethra and the bladder is guarded by an internal-urethral sphincter (a circular band of smooth muscles). This band of muscles do not allow the urine to leak out of the bladder. When it receives a message from the brain, it relaxes its grip and lets the urine flow out of the body during the process of urination.
- If the sphincter is not working properly, then the person experiences urinary incontinence, a condition wherein a person cannot hold his or her urine effectively.
Like the rest of the body organs, these organs are also affected by many diseases. These diseases include benign prostatic hyperplasia. This is a condition which often troubles men above 60 years of age because of the enlarged prostate gland. This gland is a part of the male-reproductive system. Painful-bladder syndrome is a bladder disorder, in which the wall of the bladder becomes inflamed and irritated. Kidney stones is a condition, in which, stones or calculi form inside the kidneys. These stones can be found anywhere in the urinary system. Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland which leads to a condition called dysuria. This condition is associated with painful urination. Presence of abnormal amounts of protein in the urine indicates that there is something wrong with the kidneys. The condition is referred to as proteinuria. When renal failure or kidney failure occurs, the waste and toxic materials are not expelled out of the blood, thereby leading to many complications. These organs are often troubled by infections due to bacteria, such as pyelonephritis. The urinary-tract infections are common in females.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.