After formation in the seminiferous tubules, spermatozoa are transported to the rete testes and from there through the efferent ductules to the epididymis. This movement of sperm is accomplished by ciliary movement in the efferent ductules, by muscle contraction, and by the flow of fluid.
The epididymis is a single, tightly coiled duct, 4 to 5 m long. It is composed of a head (caput), a body (corpus), and a tail (cauda) (Fig. 37.7). The functions of the epididymis are storage, protection, transport, and maturation of sperm cells. Maturation at this point includes a change in functional capacity as sperm make their way through the epididymis. The sperm become capable of forward mobility during migration through the body of the epididymis. A significant portion of sperm maturation is carried out in the caput, whereas sperm are stored in the cauda.
Frequent ejaculation results in reduced sperm numbers and increased numbers of immotile sperm in the ejaculate. The cauda connects to the vas deferens, which forms a dilated tube, the ampulla, prior to entering the prostate. The ampulla also serves as a storage site for sperm. Cutting and ligation of the vas deferens or vasectomy is an effective method of male contraception. Because sperm are stored in the ampulla, men remain fertile for 4 to 5 weeks after vasectomy.
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This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.