Seminal Vesicle

Overview

What is a seminal vesicle?

A seminal vesicle is a part of the anatomy that’s typically considered male. The two seminal vesicles are glands that produce the fluids that will turn into semen. The vesicles may also be called seminal glands or vesicular glands.

Function

What does a seminal vesicle do?

The seminal vesicle is part of the reproductive system. The vesicles have both glandular tissue and muscular tissue. The muscular tissue contracts to move seminal fluid and sperm into the urethra and out through the penis.

How do the seminal vesicles help with other organs?

The seminal vesicles work together with other parts of your reproductive system. For instance, the vesicles and the vas deferens and its ampulla (sperm repository) are all involved in pushing out ejaculate into and from the penis.

The fluids that develop in your seminal vesicles make up an estimated 50% to 80% of your semen’s volume. The substances in these fluids are designed to help sperm stay alive once they enter the vagina. The fluids carry:

  • Fructose, which provides energy.
  • Prostaglandins, which keep the vagina from seeing sperm as an invader.
  • Alkaline fluid, which helps keep the sperm alive in the vagina, which is acidic.
  • Clotting factors, which also help to keep sperm alive longer.

Anatomy

Where are the seminal vesicles located?

The seminal vesicles are located behind your bladder but in front of your rectum. The tip of the vas deferens is near the vesicles.

What does a seminal vesicle look like?

Seminal glands, which are like bags or pouches, have blood vessels and nerves within them. There are also lymph nodes nearby. The seminal glands combine glandular and muscular tissue.

How big is a seminal vesicle?

A typical seminal gland (seminal vesicle) is about 5 centimeters long or not quite 2 inches long. However, it’s in a tight coil that would be twice as long if stretched out.

Conditions and Disorders

What are the common conditions and disorders that affect the seminal vesicles?

Some common conditions and disorders that can affect the seminal vesicles include:

  • Seminal vesicle stones.
  • Infections. These happen more often in places where tuberculosis and schistosomiasis are common. Infections of the seminal vesicles are called vesiculitis or spermatocystitis.
  • Cysts. Cysts are fluid-filled sacs.
  • Tumors. Some tumors on the vesicles have started in other places in the body, like the colon or the prostate.
  • Congenital diseases (diseases you’re born with). These include seminal vesicle agenesis (which means that one or both vesicles are missing or smaller than normal).
  • Problems related to conditions such as cystic fibrosis, diabetes and autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease.

Signs and symptoms that may occur when you have something wrong with your seminal vesicles may include:

  • Infertility.
  • Hematospermia (blood in the semen).
  • Pain in the area and/or pain while ejaculating.
  • Difficulty urinating (peeing) or pain while peeing.
  • Lower semen volume.

What are some common tests to check the health of the seminal vesicles?

If your healthcare provider suspects you might have problems with your seminal vesicles, they might order one or more of the following tests:

If you have issues involving your seminal vesicles, the treatment depends on the causes. Possible treatments include:

  • Antibiotics. These drugs are used to treat infections.
  • Paracentesis: This is a way of using a needle to remove fluid from your abdomen.
  • Minimally invasive surgery to remove cysts, stones and tumors.
  • Radical prostatectomy surgery for prostate cancer that also removes seminal vesicles.

Care

What can I do to keep my reproductive system healthy?

Things that you do to stay healthy overall can help you keep your sexual organs functioning well. These things may include:

  • Stopping smoking, vaping or using other tobacco products.
  • Eating a healthy diet, including drinking enough water.
  • Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Practicing safe sex.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation.
  • Getting enough sleep.
  • Wearing protective equipment if you participate in contact sports.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when seminal vesicles get full?

Seminal vesicles do get bigger when they are full if you haven’t ejaculated. You may be asked to hold back on ejaculating for three days if your provider has ordered certain imaging tests, such as an MRI.

How long does it take for sperm to build back up after ejaculating?

There are many (billions) of sperm stored in your body. They don’t have to be produced in between ejaculation like the liquids that carry sperm out of the body. So that means that healthy people may be able to ejaculate several times a day.

The sperm production process (spermatogenesis) takes an estimated 64 to 74 days to be complete.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

There are parts of your body that you might not think about until things don’t work quite as they should. Maybe the seminal vesicles are some of these body parts. The glands are important to reproduction since they produce seminal fluid and act with other body parts to push semen out during ejaculation. You can help yourself, and your seminal vesicles, by following healthy behaviors. If you have any pain in your genital area, or if you have signs like blood in your sperm, or if you’re worried about your fertility, contact your healthcare provider.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/09/2022.

References

  • Bundhun, P.K., Janoo, G., Bhurtu, A. et al. Tobacco smoking and semen quality in infertile males: a systematic review and meta-analysis. (https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-6319-3) BMC Public Health 19, 36 (2019). Accessed 1/10/2021.
  • Dagur G, Warren K, Suh Y, Singh N, Khan SA. Detecting diseases of neglected seminal vesicles using imaging modalities (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4910035/) : A review of current literature. Int J Reprod Biomed. 2016;14(5):293-302.
  • McKay AC, Odeluga N, Jiang J, et al. Anatomy, Abdomen and Pelvis, Seminal Vesicle. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499854/) [Updated 2021 Jul 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Accessed 1/10/2021.
  • Obukohwo OM, Kingsley EN, Rume AR, et al. The concept of male reproductive anatomy. (https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/79167) In: Male Reproductive Anatomy [Working Title}. IntechOpen; 2021. Accessed 1/10/2021.
  • Yuruk E, Pastuszak AW, Suggs JM 3rd, Colakerol A, Serefoglu EC. The association between seminal vesicle size and duration of abstinence from ejaculation. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5364080/) Andrologia. 2017;49(7):10.1111/and.12707. doi:10.1111/and.12707 Accessed 1/10/2021.

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