What does my prostate do for me?

Men, especially as they age come to understand how much trouble their prostates can cause. Most hear of the problems of prostate infections, prostate enlargement and prostate cancer and wonder if there is any benefit derived from having a prostate. “What does my prostate do for me?” is the question often asked. The answer is that the prostate gland supplies most of the teaspoonful of semen ejaculated at the time of orgasm.

The volume of actual sperm in the semen is very small, amounting to less than one percent of the total volume of the ejaculate. Without that teaspoon of fluid, the sperm would never reach the egg and start the process of fertilization. The semen is the river in which sperm swim and are carried to their ultimate destination.

Without prostatic fluid, there could be no fertilization, pregnancy or children. The prostatic fluid also contains substances essential to the proper nutrition and protection of the sperm. These substances include a sugar, found in fruit, called fructose, which supplies energy to the active sperm. The vagina of a perfectly healthy woman normally contains a microscopic germ called lactobacillus, which keeps the vagina in an acidic condition. However, acid is hostile to sperm, which cannot survive in an acidic environment. Semen contains certain antacid chemicals, which act as buffering agents to protect the sperm from the naturally acidic condition in the vagina.

Sperm are formed in the testicles and over a period of almost three months, slowly make their way from the testes, traveling within a pipe or conduit, called the “vas.” That’s the same “vas” as in “vasectomy”, a more familiar term describing a minor surgical procedure to remove a small portion of the “vas” for the purpose of preventing sperm from completing their journey through the “vas” and thereby achieving effective elective male sterilization.

The right and left vas each connect with the corresponding ducts coming from the right and left seminal vesicles, positioned beneath the prostate to form the ejaculatory ducts. These run right through the middle of the prostate ending in a small cavity within a mound of tissue inside the prostate at which precise point, the seminal vesicle fluid containing the actual sperm mixes with prostate glandular fluid at the very moment of ejaculation.

It is interesting that the piece of tissue, destined in the male human embryo to become that little cavity within the mound of tissue in the prostate, containing the openings of the ejaculatory ducts, is the same exact piece of embryonic tissue that will become the uterus in the adult woman. So the prostate really is an essential organ, especially during the reproductive years, which permits the continuity of humanity itself. The proper question should not be, “What does my prostate do for me?” but rather, “What do our prostates do for us?”

Have a question? Call Dr. Okun at 718-241-6767