Medical Terminology for Male Reproductive Conditions and Pathology

By Beverley Henderson, Jennifer Lee Dorsey

The makeup of the male reproductive system, with all its tubes, ducts, and medical terms can be complicated and subject to several types of conditions. Make sure you’re familiar with the vocabulary.

Pathological male reproductive conditions

Here are some of the pathological conditions associated with the male reproductive system:

  • Adenocarcinoma of the prostate: Malignant tumor of the prostate; second most common cause of cancer deaths in men over 50; radical (complete) prostatectomy along with radiation and chemotherapy is the most common treatment

  • Andropathy: Diseases of the male

  • Anorchism: The state of absence of a testicle, one or both

  • Aspermia: Condition of absence of sperm

  • Balanocele: Protrusion of glans penis (through rupture of prepuce)

  • Balanitis: Inflammation of glans penis

  • Balanorrhea: Excessive discharge from the glans penis, often the first symptom of a sexually transmitted disease

  • BPH (benign prostatic hypertrophy/hyperplasia): Enlargement or excessive development of prostate gland in males over 60 years of age, can cause a urinary obstruction with inability to empty the bladder completely or all at once; surgical treatment is prostatectomy

  • Cryptorchidism: Undescended testicle (crypt meaning “hidden”); two months before birth, testicles should descend into scrotal sac

  • Epididymitis: Inflammation of the epididymis

  • Epispadias: Congenital (present at birth) opening of the male urethra on the upper surface of penis

  • Erectile dysfunction: Inability of male to attain or maintain an erection to perform sexual intercourse

  • Hydrocele: Hernia or sac of fluid in the testis or in the tube leading from the testis, can occur in infancy and usually resolves during the first year of life

  • Hypospadias: Congenital opening of the male urethra on the undersurface of the penis (present at birth)

  • Impotence: Lack of power to obtain erection or to copulate

  • Oligospermia: Condition of scanty sperm (in seminal fluid)

  • Orchitis/orchiditis: Inflammation of testes or a testis

  • Phimosis: Narrowing of the opening of the foreskin over the glans penis that does not allow the foreskin to retract, obstructing urination and causing secretions to accumulate under the prepuce, leading to infection

  • Priapism: Prolonged abnormal erection of penis with pain and tenderness

  • Prostatitis: Inflammation of the prostate gland

  • Prostatocystitis: Inflammation of prostate gland and bladder

  • Prostatolith: Stone in the prostate

  • Prostatorrhea: Excessive discharge from the prostate

  • Testicular carcinoma: Malignant tumor of the testis, classified according to type of tissue involved; examples: seminoma, embryonal carcinoma, and teratocarcinoma (a malignant teratoma); commonly treated with surgery: orchidectomy, radiation, and chemotherapy

  • Testicular torsion: Twisting of spermatic cord causing decreased blood flow to testicle; occurs most often during puberty; considered a surgical emergency

  • Varicocele: Large, herniated, swollen veins near the testis, associated with oligospermia (lower than normal amount of sperm) and infertility

Male reproductive diseases and pathology

Unfortunately, some of the most common diseases of the male reproductive system are the kind that make headlines, and not in a good way. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are very serious, highly contagious, and can affect everything from your ability to conceive to your relationships with future sexual partners.

Also known as venereal diseases, the following conditions occur in both male and female and are among the most communicable diseases in the world, transmitted by unprotected sexual intercourse, via body fluids. Here are the usual suspects:

  • AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a sexually transmitted disease by exchange of body fluids during a sexual act or with use of contaminated needles and contaminated blood transfusion, affecting the body’s immune system. It is caused by HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).

  • Chlamydia, the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, is the causative agent; includes diseases of the eye and genital tract. It causes discharge from the penis in males and genital itching, and vaginal discharge in females. It can cause infertility in women if it spreads to the ovaries and uterus and causes pelvic scarring secondary to the infection.

  • Genital herpes is infection of the skin and mucous membranes of the genitals, caused by Herpes virus hominis type 2. Symptoms include reddening of the skin with small fluid-filled blisters and ulcers. Remission and relapse periods occur, and no drug is known to be effective as a cure.

  • Gonorrhea is a contagious inflammation of the genital tract mucous membranes due to infection with bacteria known as Gonococcus. Other areas of the body such as the eye, mouth, rectum, and joints may be affected. Symptoms include dysuria (painful urination) and discharge from the urethra. Many women can carry this disease without symptoms, but others have pain, vaginal and urethral discharge. Penicillin is the method of treatment.

  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the retrovirus causing AIDS. HIV infects T-cell helpers of the immune system, allowing for opportunistic infections like candidiasis, P. carinii, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and Kaposi’s sarcoma.

  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted disease causing benign or cancerous growths in male and female genitals (venereal warts). Venereal warts are also known as condyloma acuminatum (plural: condylomata acuminata).

  • Syphilis is a chronic infectious disease affecting any organ of the body and is caused by a spiral-shaped bacteria known as Treponema pallidum. A chancre, or hard ulcer, usually appears a few weeks after infection, most often on external genitals but may also be on the lip, tongue, or anus with enlargement of lymph nodes. Infection can spread to internal organs, and later stages include damage to brain, spinal cord, and heart.

    Syphilis can be congenital to a newborn if transmitted from the mother during pregnancy. Penicillin is the method of treatment.

  • Trichomoniasis means infection of the urinary tract of either sex and is caused by the one-cell organism Trichomonas. Males may have no symptoms or could develop urethritis (inflammation of the urethra), or prostate enlargement. Females develop itching, dysuria, and vaginal discharge.

Venereal is derived from Venus, the goddess of love. A venereal disease was thought in ancient times to be one of the misfortunes of love.