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|Vertical section of the testis, to show the arrangement of the ducts.|
|Latin||Vas deferens (plural: vasa deferentia),
Ductus deferens (plural: ducti deferentes)
|Gray's||subject #259 1245|
|Artery||Superior vesical artery, artery of the ductus deferens|
|Lymph||External iliac lymph nodes, internal iliac lymph nodes|
The vas deferens (plural: vasa deferentia), also called ductus deferens (Latin: "carrying-away vessel"; plural: ductus deferentes), is part of the male anatomy of many vertebrates; they transport sperm from the epididymis in anticipation of ejaculation.
There are two ducts, connecting the left and right epididymis to the ejaculatory ducts in order to move sperm. Each tube is about 30 centimeters long (in humans) and is muscular (surrounded by smooth muscle). Its epithelium is lined by stereocilia.
They are part of the spermatic cords.
Function in ejaculation
During ejaculation the smooth muscle in the walls of the vas deferens contracts reflexively, thus propelling the sperm forward. This is also known as peristalsis. The sperm is transferred from the vas deferens into the urethra, collecting secretions from the male accessory sex glands such as the seminal vesicles, prostate gland and the bulbourethral glands, which form the bulk of semen.
Significance in contraception
The procedure of deferentectomy, also known as a vasectomy, is a method of contraception in which the vasa deferentia are permanently cut, though in some cases it can be reversed. A modern variation, which is also known as a vasectomy even though it does not include cutting the vas, involves injecting an obstructive material into the ductus to block the flow of sperm.
The vas deferens is supplied by an accompanying artery (artery of vas deferens). This artery normally arises from the superior (sometimes inferior) vesical artery, a branch of the internal iliac artery.
Variation among vertebrates
Most vertebrates have some form of duct to transfer the sperm from the testes to the urethra. In cartilaginous fish and amphibians, sperm is carried through the archinephric duct, which also partially helps to transport urine from the kidneys. In teleosts, there is a distinct sperm duct, separate from the ureters, and often called the vas deferens, although probably not truly homologous with that in humans.
In cartilaginous fishes, the part of the archinephric duct closest to the testis is coiled up to form an epididymis. Below this are a number of small glands secreting components of the seminal fluid. The final portion of the duct also receives ducts from the kidneys in most species.
In amniotes, however, the archinephric duct has become a true vas deferens, and is used only for conducting sperm, never urine. As in cartilaginous fish, the upper part of the duct forms the epididymis. In many species, the vas deferens ends in a small sac for storing sperm.
The only vertebrates to lack any structure resembling a vas deferens are the primitive jawless fishes, which release sperm directly into the body cavity, and then into the surrounding water through a simple opening in the body wall.
The vas deferens may be obstructed, or may be completely absent (the latter a potential feature of cystic fibrosis), causing male infertility. It can be overcome by testicular sperm extraction (TESE), collecting sperm cells directly from the testicles.
- SUNY Labs 36:07-0301 - "Inguinal Region, Scrotum and Testes: Layers of the Spermatic Cord"
- SUNY Labs 44:02-0301 - "The Male Pelvis: Distribution of the Peritoneum in the Male Pelvis"
- Mnemonic at medicalmnemonics.com 2424 319
- Cross section at UV pelvis/pelvis-e12-15
- inguinalregion at The Anatomy Lesson by Wesley Norman (Georgetown University) (testes)