The epididymis is the male sex accessory duct. The main function of the epididymis is to store the sperms for maturation and transport it to vas deferens. It is a coiled tube attached to both the testes through vasa efferentia. It connects the testes to vas deferens.
Epididymis Structure and Function
The epididymis is a large coiled tube. Sperms from seminiferous tubules come to the epididymis, complete maturation and get stored here. At the time of ejaculation, the sperms come to vas deferens and then to urethra through the ejaculatory duct.
Each epididymis is divided into the head, body and tail.
- Head or caput epididymis – It is the broad portion of the epididymis present above the testes posteriorly. It stores the sperms until they are ready for maturation. It is connected to testes by efferent ductules.
- Body or corpus epididymis – It is the long coiled tube, where sperms mature.
- Tail or cauda epididymis – It stores the mature sperm and is connected to the vas deferens.
The wall of the epididymis is lined by thick pseudostratified columnar epithelium. The stereocilia reabsorb the fluid and make the sperms more concentrated. The principal cells secrete glycoproteins, which help in the maturation of spermatozoa. The epithelium is thinnest in the tail region. The tail region is rich in smooth muscles and has shorter stereocilia. The head region is rich in apical cells, which are rich in mitochondria.
Also see: Importance of Spermatogenesis
When sperms reach the head of the epididymis, they are not mature and are not motile. Sperms take 2-6 days to mature in humans during their transit in the epididymis and become motile. Their motility is reduced in the epididymis until ejaculation. They are stored in the tail region and at the time of ejaculation, they are transported to the ejaculatory duct via vas deferens and finally come out of the urethra. The final maturation or capacitation of sperms only takes place in the female reproductive tract.
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