The seminal vesicles are a pair of sac-like glands that can be found within the male pelvis. They’re responsible for producing the majority of the components that make up semen.
Read on to learn more about the seminal vesicles.
The tube of a seminal vesicle is made up of three different layers:
- moist inner layer of specialized cells that work to produce seminal vesicle fluid
- middle layer of smooth muscle tissue
- outer layer of connective tissue
Part of the seminal vesicles and the vas deferens combine to form the ejaculatory duct, which eventually drains into the prostatic portion of the urethra. During ejaculation, the smooth muscle layer of the seminal vesicles contracts, releasing the seminal vesicle fluid into the ejaculatory duct.
The function of the seminal vesicles is to both produce and store fluid that will eventually become semen. This fluid comprises about 70 percent of the fluid that’s released during ejaculation.
The fluid produced in the seminal vesicles provides an environment that’s very important for the proper functioning and survival of sperm. The main components of this fluid are:
- fructose, a sugar that provides sperm with energy
- alkaline fluid, which helps to neutralize the acidic nature of the male urethra and the female vagina
- proteins like semenogelin, which forms a gel-like protective layer around sperm
- phosphorus and potassium, which help sperm move
- prostaglandins, hormones that have a role in lowering the female immune response to semen
The seminal vesicle, also referred to as the seminal gland, holds the liquid that mixes with sperm to form semen.
There are a variety of conditions that can affect the seminal vesicles, although they tend to be rare.
Seminal vesicle infection and abscess
A seminal vesicle abscess occurs when bacteria invade the seminal vesicles. This can occur after an infection of the urethra or the prostate gland. Treatment for an infection of the seminal vesicles is a course of antibiotics.
In some cases, a pocket of pus, referred to as an abscess, may occur as a result of infection. In this case, the abscess may need to be drained.
Seminal vesicle cysts
Cysts in the seminal vesicles are often asymptomatic, meaning they present no outward symptoms. They can be present from birth (congenital) or acquired. Acquired seminal vesicle cysts can arise from things like scarring from infection or a prior prostate surgery.
Depending on the size of the cyst, a laparoscopic surgical procedure can be performed to remove it.
Seminal vesicle stones
The presence of stones in the seminal vesicles is very rare. They’re believed to form due to inflammation or structural abnormalities in the seminal vesicles. Reflux of urine back into the ejaculatory duct may also play a role in stone formation.
Removal of seminal vesicle stones is recommended, particularly when they’re large or there are multiple stones. This can be accomplished through an endoscopic or laparoscopic surgical procedure.
Cancer of the seminal vesicle
Cancer that develops in the seminal vesicles is very rare. As of the year 2000, there were only 48 cases confirmed in American or European medical literature. It’s currently unclear as to what causes cancer to arise in the seminal vesicles.
Many cancers that involve the seminal vesicles occur because of invasion of the seminal vesicles due to another malignant cancer, typically prostate cancer. The closeness of the seminal vesicles with the prostate makes this invasion possible.
The symptoms of a seminal vesicle condition can commonly include:
- abdominal, pelvic, or penile pain
- pain or discomfort when ejaculating
- blood in ejaculate
- low volume of ejaculate
- painful urination
- blood in the urine
It’s important to note that these symptoms can also be indicative of other pelvic, urinary tract, or reproductive conditions. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of a seminal vesicle condition, you should make an appointment with your doctor to discuss them.
Since the seminal vesicles contribute the majority of fluid present in semen, it’s important to keep them healthy. Follow the tips below for good seminal vesicle and reproductive health.
Practice safe sex
Be sure to practice safe sex with any new sexual partner. Condoms not only prevent unplanned pregnancies, but they can also prevent sexually transmitted infections. Infections can lead to inflammation and scarring of the urogenital tract, including the seminal vesicles.
Try to maintain a healthy weight
Exercise and aim to maintain a healthy weight. A higher body mass index is associated with lower sperm movement and count.
Eat a healthy diet
You should aim to consume a diet that’s rich in vegetables and fruits, which contain beneficial antioxidants. Include whole grains and lean meats. Avoid items that are processed or are high in saturated fat or sugar.
Smoking cigarettes can make your sperm less mobile and also lower your sperm count. Quitting smoking can be difficult but it’s possible. A doctor can help create a plan to quit smoking that’s right for you.
Don’t ignore worrisome symptoms
If you notice that you’re experiencing symptoms that are consistent with a seminal vesicle condition, be sure to make an appointment with a doctor to discuss your concerns.
The seminal vesicles are two small glands that store and produce the majority of the fluid that makes up semen. During ejaculation, the fluid from the seminal vesicles is expelled into the ejaculatory duct where it can then move on to mix with sperm and other reproductive fluids.
Conditions of the seminal vesicles are infrequent and usually quite rare. However, if you’re experience symptoms like those listed above, be sure to make an appointment with a doctor.