Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

The male reproductive system is responsible for reproduction.

The male reproductive system is responsible for reproduction.
beginning of content

Male reproductive system

2-minute read

The male reproductive system contains the external genitals (the penis, testes and the scrotum) and internal parts, including the prostate gland, vas deferens and urethra. A man's fertility and sexual traits depend on the normal functioning of the male reproductive system, as well as hormones released from the brain.

Organs and functions

The male reproductive system is responsible for reproduction. It is made of the following parts:

  • Penis — the organ used for urination and sexual intercourse. It has spongy tissue which can fill with blood to cause an erection. It contains the urethra, which carries both urine and semen.
  • Scrotum — this is a loose bag of skin that hangs outside the body, behind the penis. It holds the testes in place.
  • Testes (or testicles) — these are a pair of egg-shaped glands that sit in the scrotum, on the outside of the body. They produce sperm and testosterone, which is the male sex hormone.
  • Epididymis — this is a highly coiled tube that lies at the back of the testes. All sperm from the testes must pass through the epididymis, where they mature and start to ‘swim’.
  • Vas deferens — this is a thick-walled tube joined to the epididymis. It carries sperm from the epididymis up to the prostate gland and urethra.
  • Prostate gland — this is a walnut-sized gland that sits in the middle of the pelvis. The urethra runs through the middle of it. It produces the fluid secretions that support and nourish the sperm.
  • Urethra — this is a tube that extends from the bladder to the external opening at the end of the penis. The urethra carries both urine and sperm.
  • Seminal vesicles — these are 2 small glands above the prostate gland that make up much of the fluid in semen.
Diagram showing the external and internal parts of the male reproductive system.
Diagram showing the external and internal parts of the male reproductive system.

The brain also has an important role in reproductive function, as it controls the release of sex hormones.

What can go wrong?

As with any other part of the human body, things can sometimes go wrong with the male reproductive system, including:

If you notice any symptoms or problems, it is important to see your doctor quickly. Early treatment can avoid serious long-term problems.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2021

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Male reproductive system | Healthy Male

Male reproductive system What is the male reproductive system? Penis Urethra Scrotum Testes Epididymis Vas deferens Ejaculatory duct Seminal vesicles Prostate Cowpers glands Bladder Rectum Sperm Semen Resources Resources Fact sheet The male body fact sheet Download PDF Booklet A User's Guide Download PDF SEE ALL RESOURCES

Read more on Healthy Male - Andrology Australia website

Male reproductive system -

View our diagram of the male reproductive organs, including the penis, testicles, prostate, urethra and vas deferens.

Read more on myDr website

Understanding genitourinary cancer | Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Genitourinary cancers is a specialised field focusing on cancers found in the urinary system and the male reproductive system. These include prostate cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, testicular cancer and cancers of the penis.

Read more on Peter Mac - Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre website

Testicular cancer

Testicular cancer occurs when abnormal cells within the testicles grow in an uncontrolled way. The testicles are part of the male reproductive system. They are located behind the penis in a sac of skin called the scrotum.

Read more on Cancer Australia website

Erectile Dysfunction | myVMC

Erectile dysfunction is the inability to develop or maintain an erection rigid enough to allow penetration of the vagina, and therefore functional sexual intercourse.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Genitourinary Oncology | Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Genitourinary cancers are found in urinary tract (kidney and bladder) and male reproductive system (prostate, testicles and penis).

Read more on Peter Mac - Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre website

What is a urologist? Introduction and information about urologists | myVMC

Urologists are specialists who treat people for problems and diseases of the urinary tract and male reproductive system. They treat men, women and children.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Ejaculation: how it works -

When a man is sexually stimulated, friction on the glans penis and other stimuli send signals through the nervous system that cause ejaculation.

Read more on myDr website

Male infertility -

Male infertility is a major factor in 30-50 per cent of difficulties conceiving. It usually results from low numbers of, or poor quality, sperm.

Read more on myDr website

Prostate cancer: Overview | Cancer Council Victoria

Key questions on prostate cancer such as what is it, how common is it and what are the risk factors and symptoms.

Read more on Cancer Council Victoria website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo