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Common Questions: The Prostate

What is the prostate?

It is the most common question: What is the prostate?

The prostate is a nonessential, secretory, secondary sexual organ found in all male mammals. Females do not have prostates, although tiny secretory organs next to the urethra share some homology to the prostate. These female organs, named for Scottish gynecologist Alexander Skene, are also secretory.

Secondary sexual organs vary greatly from species to species and so it is with the prostate. For instance, the human has a single prostate attached to paired, nonessential secretory organs known as seminal vesicles. By contrast, the dog has only a prostate. In the opossum, the prostate is composed of a series of small glands around the urethra.

The prostate and the attached seminal vesicles produce the liquid portion of semen and are thought to be required for fertility.

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What is the prostate?