Bulbourethral gland

Bulbourethral gland
Bulbourethral gland
Male anatomy.png
Male Anatomy
The deeper branches of the internal pudendal artery. (Bulbourethral gland labeled at center left.)
Latin glandulæ bulbourethrales
Gray's subject #264 1253
Artery Artery of the urethral bulb
Precursor Urogenital sinus
MeSH Bulbourethral+Glands

A bulbourethral gland, also called a Cowper's gland for anatomist William Cowper, is one of two small exocrine glands present in the reproductive system of human males. 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. 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.[1]


During sexual arousal each gland produces a clear, 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,[2] and helps flush out any residual urine or foreign matter. 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. The Cowper's gland also produces some amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), and Cowper's tumors may increase PSA to a level that makes prostate cancer suspected.[citation needed]


See also


  1. ^ Gray's Anatomy, 38th edn, p 1861.
  2. ^ 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. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118692977/abstract. 

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • bulbourethral gland — n COWPER S GLAND …   Medical dictionary

  • bulbourethral gland — [bul΄bə yo͞o rē′thrəl] n. COWPER S GLAND …   English World dictionary

  • bulbourethral gland — noun either of two glands that discharge a component of seminal fluid into the urethra; homologous to Bartholin s gland in the female • Syn: ↑Cowper s gland • Hypernyms: ↑exocrine gland, ↑exocrine, ↑duct gland • Part Holonyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • bulbourethral gland — Anat., Zool. See Cowper s gland. * * * ▪ anatomy also called  Cowper s Gland,         either of two pea shaped glands in the male, located beneath the prostate gland at the beginning of the internal portion of the penis; they add fluids to semen… …   Universalium

  • bulbourethral gland — noun Etymology: Latin bulbus bulb + English urethral Date: circa 1903 Cowper s gland …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • bulbourethral gland — noun An exocrine gland which secretes a clear fluid known as pre ejaculate or Cowper’s fluid (colloquially known as “pre cum”) which is generated upon sexual arousal. Syn: Cowper’s glands …   Wiktionary

  • duct of bulbourethral gland — ductus glandulae bulbourethralis …   Medical dictionary

  • gland — An organized aggregation of cells functioning as a secretory or excretory organ. SYN: glandula (1) [TA]. [L. glans, acorn] accessory g. a small mass of glandular structure, detached from but lying near another and larger g., to which it is… …   Medical dictionary

  • bulbocavernous gland — bulbourethral gland glandula bulbourethralis …   Medical dictionary

  • Cowper's gland — Cow·per s gland .kau̇ pərz , .kü pərz , .ku̇p ərz n either of two small glands of which one lies on each side of the male urethra below the prostate gland and discharges a secretion into the semen called also bulbourethral gland, gland of Cowper… …   Medical dictionary

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