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|Artery||Artery of the urethral bulb|
A bulbourethral gland, also called a Cowper's gland for English anatomist William Cowper, is one of two small exocrine glands present in the reproductive system of many male mammals (of all domesticated animals, they are only absent in the dog). They are homologous to Bartholin's glands in females.
Bulbourethral glands are located posterior and lateral to the membranous portion of the urethra at the base of the penis, between the two layers of the fascia of the urogenital diaphragm, in the deep perineal pouch. They are enclosed by transverse fibers of the sphincter urethrae membranaceae muscle.
The bulbourethral glands are compound tubulo-alveolar glands, each approximately the size of a pea in humans. In chimpanzees, they are not visible during dissection, but can be found on microscopic examination. In boars, they are up to 18 cm long and 5 cm in diameter. They are composed of several lobules held together by a fibrous covering. Each lobule consists of a number of acini, lined by columnar epithelial cells, opening into a duct that joins with the ducts of other lobules to form a single excretory duct. This duct is approximately 2.5 cm long and opens into the urethra at the base of the penis. The glands gradually diminish in size with advancing age.[unreliable source]
During sexual arousal each gland produces a clear, salty, viscous secretion known as pre-ejaculate. This fluid helps to lubricate the urethra for spermatozoa to pass through, neutralizing traces of acidic urine in the urethra, and helps flush out any residual urine or foreign matter.
Though the pre-ejaculate does not contain sperm it is possible for this fluid to pick up sperm, remaining in the urethral bulb from previous ejaculations, and carry them out prior to the next ejaculation.
- Mark McEntee (December 2, 2012). Reproductive Pathology of Domestic Mammals. Elsevier Science. p. 333. ISBN 978-0-323-13804-8. Retrieved August 20, 2013.
- Jeffrey H. Schwartz (1988). Orang-utan Biology. Oxford University Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-19-504371-6. Retrieved August 20, 2013.
- Gray's Anatomy, 38th ed., p 1861.
- Chughtai, Bilal; Ahmed Sawas; Rebecca L. O'Malley; Rohan R. Naik; S. Ali Khan; Srinivas Pentyala (April 2005). "A Neglected Gland: A Review of Cowper's Gland". International Journal of Andrology (Blackwell Publishing) 28 (2): 74–7. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2605.2005.00499.x. ISSN 0105-6263. PMID 15811067.