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1: Epididymis
2: Head of epididymis
3: Lobules of epididymis
4: Body of epididymis
5: Tail of epididymis
6: Duct of epididymis
7: Deferent duct (ductus deferens or vas deferens)
Latin '
Gray's subject #258 1242
MeSH A05.360.444.371
The right testis, exposed by laying open the tunica vaginalis.

The epididymis (IPA: /ɛpiˈdɪdɪmɪs/, plural: epididymides, IPA: /ɛpidɪdɪ'miːdiːz/) is part of the male reproductive system and is present in all male mammals. It is a narrow, tightly-coiled tube connecting the efferent ducts from the rear of each testicle to its vas deferens.


The epididymis can be divided into three main regions

  • The head (Caput)
  • The body (Corpus)
  • The tail (Cauda)

Role in storage of sperm and ejaculation[]

Spermatozoa formed in the testis enter the caput epididymis, progress to the corpus, and finally reach the cauda region, where they are stored. Sperm entering the caput epididymis are incomplete - they lack the ability to swim forward (motility) and to fertilize an egg. During their transit in the epididymis, sperm undergo maturation processes necessary for them to acquire these functions.[1] Final maturation is completed in the female reproductive tract (capacitation).

During ejaculation, sperm flow from the lower portion of the epididymis (which functions as a storage reservoir). They have not been activated by products from the prostate gland, and they are unable to swim, but are transported via the peristaltic action of muscle layers within the vas deferens, and are mixed with the diluting fluids of the seminal vesicles and other accessory glands prior to ejaculation (forming semen).

The epididymis possesses numerous, long atypical microvilli. These processes are often called stereocillia. This is incorrect as they neither contain the microtubular structures of cilia, nor do they function like cilia.[2]


An inflammation of the epididymis is called epididymitis.

Embryology and vestigial structures[]

A Gartner's duct is a homologous remnant in the female.

In the embryo, the epididymis develops from tissue that once formed the mesonephros, a primitive kidney found in many aquatic vertebrates. Persistence of the cranial end of the mesonephric duct will leave behind a remnant called the appendix of the epididymis. In addition, some mesonephric tubules can persist as the paradidymis, a small body caudal to the efferent ductules.


This is the surgical removal of the Epididymis carried out under local anaesthesia. This is most often perfomed to relieve pain associated post-Vasectomy.

Additional images[]


  1. Jones R (1999). To store or mature spermatozoa? The primary role of the epididymis. Int J Androl 22 (2): 57–67. abstract
  2. Stevens, Alan; Lowe, James N. (2005). Human histology, Philadelphia: Elsevier Mosby.

External links[]

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