Bulbourethral Glands

Bulbourethral glands, also known as Cowper’s glands, are two small exocrine glands that lie beneath the sphincter urethrae muscle. They are only present in the male reproductive system and are analogous to Bartholin’s glands of females.


As stated above, the bulbourethral glands lie posterior and lateral to the membranous part of urethra, beneath the sphincter urethrae muscle.


Each bulbourethral gland is a compound tubule-alveolar gland, approximately the size of a pea. Each is composed of several lobules that are held together by a fibrous covering.

The duct of each gland is about 1 inch long, which opens into the penile part of urethra at the base of penis. Bulbourethral glands gradually diminish in size with advancing age.


The primary function of bulbourethral glands is production of pre-ejaculate. It is a clear, viscous secretion that is produced during sexual arousal. Its function is to help lubricate the urethra for spermatozoa to pass and neutralize traces of acidic urine in the urethra.

Bulbourethral glands also produce some amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), the increased quantity of which is an indicator of prostatic cancer.