Ejaculatory Ducts: Anatomy, Function and Disorders

3D rendering of the male reproductive system.

What Are The Ejaculatory Ducts?

The ejaculatory ducts (also called the ductus ejaculatorii), are a pair of hollow tubes in the male anatomy that are located on either side of the prostate gland. Each measures approximately two centimeters in length and is formed when the duct of a seminal vesicle merges with the vas deferens.

This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the ejaculatory ducts, as well as related medical conditions associated with them.

What Is the Function Of The Ejaculatory Ducts?

The ejaculatory ducts transport a mixture of sperm and seminal vesicle fluid into the prostate gland in order to produce semen.

Sperm is produced in the testes, stored in the ampulla of the vas deferens, and is then transported to the ejaculatory ducts during sexual arousal. At the same time, it is combined with a fructose-rich fluid from the seminal vesicles (the seminal vesicle fluid nourishes the sperm, keeping them active and motile).

Anatomical drawing of the ejaculatory ducts

The vas deferens and seminal vesicles converge to form the ejaculatory ducts. (Source: Wikipedia)

This sperm/seminal fluid mixture moves down the ejaculatory duct into the prostate gland, where an alkaline prostatic fluid is added in order to protect the sperm from the acidic environment of the vagina. This final mixture then enters the bulbourethral glands as semen where it is ready to be ejaculated from the penis through the urethra.

Is Sperm Stored In The Ejaculatory Duct?

Sperm is not stored in the ejaculatory ducts – rather, the ducts are used to combine sperm that is transported from the vas deferens with seminal vesicle fluid, and then to move this mixture to the prostate.

What Happens When The Ejaculatory Duct Becomes Blocked?

Either or both ejaculatory ducts can become blocked, either from birth or by acquiring a medical condition called ejaculatory duct obstruction. An ejaculatory duct obstruction can cause decreased sperm production, a low sperm count, and pain or discomfort after ejaculating.

Men who have an obstruction in both ejaculatory ducts will experience infertility, either due to a low sperm count (azoospermia) or a complete absence of sperm (aspermia). In men who have been diagnosed with male infertility, a blockage involving the ejaculatory ducts is found to be the cause in approximately 5% of cases.

Another way that the function of the ejaculatory ducts can be affected is from surgery to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This condition causes the prostate to become abnormally large. While surgery can correct this condition, there is a chance that an ejaculatory duct could become damaged during the procedure which could lead to retrograde ejaculation.

How Can You Unblock The Ejaculatory Ducts?

In order to fix an obstruction of the ejaculatory duct, a urologist will need to perform a procedure called a transurethral resection of the ejaculatory duct (or TURED for short). This endoscopic procedure can be performed in order to unblock the ducts to restore normal ejaculation by using instruments that are inserted into the penis.

The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis and the patient can generally return home the same day.

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