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What is the Bulbospongiosus?

By Alex Terris
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The bulbospongiosus is a muscle located in the perineum, which is a surface that is found next to the coccyx in humans. Although the muscle is present in both genders, the exact location differs. The male bulbospongiosus is located on the penis bulb while in females it is found over the vestibular bulb, which is also known as the clitoral bulb. Functionally, the muscle also differs between genders with the male version being involved in erection of the penis and ejaculation while the female muscle is used for clitoral erection.

The exact location of the muscle is just in front of the anus and along the middle of the perineum. There are actually two parts to the muscle that are symmetrical. The origin of the bulbospongiosus is from the tendon part of the perineum and from there it runs to either the bulb of the penis or the vestibular bulb. In anatomy the muscle is said to be superficial — in other words it is on the surface.

The bulbospongiosus is innervated by the same nerve, the perineal, in both male and female bodies. It is a branch of the pudendal nerve. In shape the bulbospongiosus is different from many muscles in that the fibers don’t run parallel to each other but instead diverge outwards. The fibers in the middle of the muscle are the ones, which wrap around the bulb.

In males, the main functions of the bulbospongiosus is to increase the feeling of orgasm and assist with erection and ejaculation. An erection is achieved using the anterior part of the muscle, which is the section that is toward the front of the body. This part of the muscle contracts during erection, which puts pressure on a vein that runs into the penis.

In women the bulbospongiosus contributes to the feeling of orgasm and is involved in clitoral erection. The muscle is also involved in closing the vagina. Aside from the functions that are unique to male and females there are also some actions that are common to both.

The muscle is involved in emptying the urethra’s canal after the person has emptied his or her bladder. During urination the muscle is relaxed for most of the process and only becomes active towards the end. The middle part of the muscle can also help the urethra to become erect through compression of certain tissues in the bulb of the penis.

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Discussion Comments
By anon278127 — On Jul 04, 2012

I had a virtual male sling implanted to correct stress incontinence secondary to prostatectomy, I have had some side issues--scrotal numbness and penis head numbness. What is going on here? is this correctable without undoing the sling procedure?

By burcidi — On Dec 05, 2011

@alisha-- I completely agree with you. Not just urination, bulbospongiosus can also be the cause of ejaculation problems in men.

My husband was experiencing this because apparently his muscle was strained and over-exerted. The doctor gave him some bulbospongiosus muscle exercises to do and he also started doing yoga. He read somewhere that yoga can help pelvic muscles relax through stretching.

These have really helped and he hasn't had any problems in the last couple of months.

By discographer — On Dec 05, 2011

@turquoise-- I'm not sure if bubospongiosus is the cause for all bladder control problems, but I know that it's the reason for post micturition dribble. This is when a small amount of urine is released after urination because the bulbospongosus muscle is not working exactly right.

This muscle becomes active at the end of urination to make sure that any urine remaining is pushed out. When it doesn't work right, a small amount of urine can come out when we're out of the bathroom.

I understand what you're saying about treatment, but pelvic floor exercises is the best way to strengthen these muscles for both men and women. It might take some time, but these are really easy exercises that everyone can do on their own. So I don't think that we need to take medication for it.

What's important is awareness and not being ashamed of asking our doctor when we realize that something is off.

By turquoise — On Dec 04, 2011

I work in a nursing home and we have many old residents who have bladder problems, mainly being unable to hold their urine. I know how frustrating and humiliating it is for them. I also know that there is little that can be done because I think it's mostly a natural incident that develops as we age.

The fact that the bublbospongiosus becomes active only towards the end of urination makes me think that it contributes to this process. Are people unable to hold their urine because the bulbospongiosus is weakened or dysfunctions?

And if so, can we treat this problem by treating the bulbospongiosus?

Despite being such a widespread health issue among the elderly, I feel that doctors are able to do little about it. I know there are pelvic exercises that can be done to strengthen muscles, but it takes a long time. I wish we had other alternative treatments that allow us to control muscles like the bulbospongiosus more easily. It's sad because we are all going to age and will most likely face this as well.

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