Difference Between Male and Female Urinary System

Updated on August 25, 2015

Urine is the body’s natural way of eliminating liquid waste. It is excreted via the urinary system which is composed of the kidneys, ureter, bladder, and urethra. Although the male and female urinary systems have similar parts, there are differences between the two, which will be discussed in this article. 

Definitions

Male Urinary System
Male Urinary System

The male urinary system functions to excrete liquid wastes from the body. It includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. The kidneys are located retroperitoneal in the upper abdomen. They filter body waste from the blood and produce urine. Urine then flows to the ureters – a pair of 10 to 12 inch long tubes that connect the kidneys to the urinary bladder. The bladder is a hollow organ located at the midline just below the pelvis. It has elastic walls that can stretch and hold 600 to 800mm of urine before it is excreted out of the body. Once the urinary bladder is distended, it is time to expel the urine out of the body through the urethra. The male urethra is different from the female urethra in terms of function and length. These differences will be discussed in detail in this article.

Female Urinary System
Female Urinary System

The female urinary system has similar parts and functions to the male urinary system. It expels excess body fluids via the kidneys, ureter, urinary bladder, and the urethra. The kidneys are located in the abdomen at the retroperitoneal area. The two ureters connect the kidney to the urinary bladder. The urinary bladder stores urine until it is ready to be excreted out from the body through the urethra. The female urethra is different from the male urethra in terms of function and length. These differences will be discussed in detail in this article.

Comparison Chart

Male Urinary SystemFemale Urinary System
Connected to the reproductive systemNot connected to the reproductive system
Transports semen and urineTransports urine
Urethra is 10 to 15 centimetersUrethra is 3 to 4 centimeters
Passes the prostrate, internal and external sphincters, urogenital diaphragm, Cowper’s gland, and the entire length of the penisPasses the neck of the bladder, internal and external sphincters, and urogenital diaphragm
Rarely has urinal infectionsUrinal infections are common

Male Urinary System vs Female Urinary System

What is the difference between the male and the female urinary systems? Let us compare the two in terms of association with the reproductive system, function of the urethra, length of urethra, end point of urethra, and risk of getting urinary infections.

  • The male urinary system shares a common pathway with the male reproductive system, the penis. As for the female, although there is a close proximity between the female urinary system and female reproductive system, the former is not connected to the latter.
  • The major difference between the male and female urinary system is the urethra. The male urethra, which passes through the penis, serves as a pathway for both semen (an ejaculation from the male reproductive system) and urine (excretion of liquid by-products). As for the female urethra, it only functions to excrete urine.
  • Aside from function, there is also a difference in length. The male urethra measures approximately 10 to 15 centimeters, depending on the length of the penis. As for the female urethra, it is approximately 3 to 4 centimeters long.
  • Since the male urethra is longer, it passes through more organs and muscles. It passes the prostrate, internal and external sphincters, urogenital diaphragm, Cowper’s gland, and the entire length of the penis. For the females, the short urethra extends from the neck of the bladder, internal and external sphincters, and urogenital diaphragm.
  • Urinary infections for males are rare compared to females. There is a good distance between the urinary opening and anal opening in the male urinary system. For the female, the urinary opening, anal opening, and vagina are closely located.

Video

The following video can help you better understand the urinary system anatomy:

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