The seminal vesicles (glandulae vesiculosae) or vesicular glands1 are a pair of simple tubular glands posteroinferior to the urinary bladder of some male mammals. Carnivores, marsupials, monotremes, and cetaceans do not have seminal vesicles.2 Seminal vesicles are located within the pelvis.
Each seminal vesicle spans approximately 5 cm, though its full unfolded length is approximately 10 cm, but it is curled up inside the gland's structure. Each vesicle forms as an outpocketing of the wall of the ampulla of one vas deferens.
The seminal vesicles secrete a significant proportion of the fluid that ultimately becomes semen. Lipofuscin granules from dead epithelial cells give the secretion its yellowish color. About 50-70%3 of the seminal fluid in humans originates from the seminal vesicles, but is not expelled in the first ejaculate fractions which are dominated by spermatozoa and zinc-rich prostatic fluid. The excretory duct of each seminal gland opens into the corresponding vas deferens as it enters the prostate gland. Seminal vesicle fluid is alkaline, resulting in human semen having a mildly alkaline pH.4 The alkalinity of semen helps neutralize the acidity of the vaginal tractcitation needed, prolonging the lifespan of sperm. Acidic ejaculate (pH <7.2) may be associated with Ejaculatory duct obstruction. The vesicle produces a substance that causes the semen to become sticky/jelly-like after ejaculation.
In vitro studies have shown that sperm expelled together with seminal vesicular fluid show poor motility and survival, and the sperm chromatin is less protected. Therefore the exact physiological importance of seminal vesicular fluid is not clear.
Low magnification micrograph of seminal vesicle. H&E stain.
High magnification micrograph of seminal vesicle. H&E stain.