Male Reproductive Structures

Sexual reproduction involves the formation of a diploid zygote from two haploid gametes through fertilization. The roles of a male in sexual reproduction are to produce sperm cells and to deliver the sperm cells to the female reproductive system to fertilize an egg cell.

The male reproductive system contains two egg-shaped testes. The testes (TES-TEEZ) (singular, testis) are the gamete-producing organs of the male reproductive system. Each testis, which is about 4 cm (1.5 in.) long and 2.5 cm (1 in.) in diameter, has about 250 compartments. As shown in Figure 51-1, these compartments contain many tightly coiled tubules, called seminiferous (SEM-uh-NIF-uhr-uhs) tubules. Each seminiferous tubule is approximately 80 cm (32 in.) long. If all of the tubules in both testes were stretched out end to end, they would extend about 500 m (1,640 ft). Sperm form through meiosis in the specialized lining of this extensive network of tubules.

The testes develop within the abdominal cavity Before a male is born, the testes leave this cavity and descend into an external sac called the scrotum (SKROHT-uhm). The temperature within the scrotum is about 2°C to 3°C cooler than the temperature inside the abdomen. Normal body temperature, 37°C, is too high to allow sperm to complete development. The slightly cooler temperature of the scrotum is necessary for the development of normal sperm.

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