What is Urethra, its Parts and Function

Resembling a tubular structure, it develops a connection between the urinary bladder and the genital organs in human body, as you can see in the urethra pictures. It is this canal, through which the transfer of excretory fluids occurs, that is ultimately emptied out of the body. The length of urethra varies greatly in feminine and masculine gender, as in the former, it is much shorter, while in the latter, it is comparatively longer. The body wall is composed of three distinct layers that are continuous with the urinary bladder. As with other organs of the body, urethra is likewise vulnerable to a number of inflammatory, infectious, genetic, and STDs or Sexually Transmitted Diseases.


Parts of Urethra

If you dissect and view the urethra parts, you can make distinction between three layers, viz. mucous, erectile and muscular. On account of its length, it shows considerable variation based on gender differences, i.e. in women, it ranges between 3.5 to 4.0 centimeter, while in males, it varies from 15 to 29 centimeter. This is because, in women, it has to travel only a shorter distance to empty into the region between clitoris and vagina and extends from the internal to the external urethral orifice. In case of men, it has to cover comparatively long distance to reach the end of male genital organ, penis. However, to make the concept clear, the urethral tube can be divided into four distinct parts which are named after their respective location, namely, spongy, membranous, pre-prostatic and prostatic urethra.

Functions of Urethra

In human males and females, as is the case with its structural variation, you will see different urethra functions. In women, the urinary tube serves only as a passage for urine from bladder to the region near clitoris and vagina, while in men; it is involved in dual functions that are the transfer of urine out of the body through penile opening as well as the ejaculation of seminal fluid. The process of urination is controlled by both voluntary and involuntary actions where the external urethral sphincter is responsible for the deliberate command over the excretion of urinary fluid. The striated muscle tissue that forms the external voluntarily controlled sphincter is responsible for the effective functioning of this structure.

Diseases of Urethra

Urine tests, cystoscope and x-Ray techniques are used to determine the critical disorders of this organ that, if timely detected, can be easily cured. But, due to the location of the infection at the sensitive region, the patients are usually very shy to disclose the matter to their health care provider. Some common medical conditions of the structure include urethral stricture, cancer, inflammation, infections, sexually transmitted disorders, inherited abnormalities, and so on. Urethritis is caused by microbial infections and leads to swelling in the boundary wall of the urinary tube, while the narrowing of the opening of urethra is termed as urethral strictures. Some of the common symptoms among many of these disorders are severe pain, difficulty in passing urine, discharge and bleeding, etc. Medications and surgical therapy are the frequently recommended treatment measures, but the choice depends upon the type and the severity of the disorder.

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