The prostate is part of the male reproductive system. A walnut-sized gland located between the male bladder and the penis, the prostate sits just in front of the rectum. The urethra runs from the bladder to the penis, through the center of the prostate.
The prostate secretes fluid that nourishes and protects sperm after ejaculation. The milky fluid produced by the prostate – prostatic fluid – makes up around 30 percent of the total fluid ejaculated (the rest is sperm and fluid from the seminal vesicles).
Prostatic fluid protects sperm, helping them live longer and be more mobile. It contains a number of ingredients, including enzymes, zinc, and citric acid. One of the enzymes in prostatic fluid is prostate-specific antigen (PSA). After ejaculation, PSA makes thickened semen runnier, helping sperm travel through it more easily, increasing their likelihood of successfully fertilizing an egg.
During ejaculation, the prostate squeezes prostatic fluid into the urethra, and it is expelled with sperm as part of semen. This is a key part of male reproduction. Studying the components of prostatic fluid and how it protects sperm could provide new information that can be optimized for male birth control and contraception.
Learn more about male contraceptive methods in the R&D pipeline today.
Nuts & Bolts: Prostate
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