Male fertility depends on the production of normal sperm and the delivery of it to a female reproductive tract. The journey of sperm form origin to ejaculation ocuurs in a series of steps, in each step it passes through different parts of the male reproductive tract where it undergoes future development and processing. Each of these steps is regulated by gonadotropins – hormones that control the male reproductive cycle.
Step 1: The process begins with spermatogenesis, or the development of sperm in the testicles. Sperm cells (spermatozoa) are produced by a complicated process of cell division that occurs over a period of several months (70 days). Sperms originate from germs cells called Spermatogonium present inside the seminiferous tubules of the testis. These spermatogonia are in close contact with sertoli cells that nurse and control the process of spermatogenesis. The leydig cells of the testis that are located outside the seminiferous tubules control the sertoli cells and play an important role in sperm production.
Step 2: Once formed, the sperm leave the testicles and are stored in the epididymis where they fully develop. The maturation of sperms occurs in stages with the first stage occurring in the epididymis respectively and the remaining stages occur after they have left the body.
Step 3:The partially mature sperms are then pushed through the vas deferens and reach the prostatic duct (part of the vas deference that passes through the prostate gland). Here the sperm gets mixed with seminal fluid to form semen. The seminal fluid constitutes of secretions from by three accessory glands
a) The prostate: Produces bulk of the seminal fluid that helps maintain the appropriate pH required for the sperms to survive outside the body
b) The Cowper’s Gland: Secrets a mucus like fluid that acts as a lubricant
c) The Seminal Vesicles: Produces Fructose that is the prime source of energy for the sperms.
Step 4: The semen passes into the urethra and is ejaculated.