Seminal plugs, which must be tightly adhered to the vaginal walls for optimal fertilization, are disturbed or loosened by copulatory intromissions. In multi-male mating encounters, a male may reduce the sperm delivered by a previous male by dislodging the former male's plug and depositing his own sperm and plug. Recent work has documented that the striated penile muscles are involved in the production of penile erectile cups and flips. This study focused on the effects of penile muscle excision on the ability of male rats to dislodge and deposit tight plugs. Using a radiopaque contrast medium to visualize if a seminal plug was tightly adhered to the vaginal wall, displaced caudally or dislodged, Experiment 1 examined the manner in which plugs were removed during a series of intromissions. The dislodgement process was envisioned as a gradual one beginning with caudal displacement which occurs during the first or second intromission.
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These plugs are formed of eosinophilic proteinaceous material mixed with exfoliated urothelial cells, cellular debris, and spermatozoa. In the adult male rat secretions from the accessory sex glands: secrete fluids that act as an energy source for sperm, contribute to the mobility and viability of sperm, help to lubricate the urethra and clear it of urine prior to ejaculation, and serves as a means of transporting the sperm in the female tract and creating a copulatory plug to help ensure fertilization. In addition secretions called smegma, composed of oils, moisture, and shed epithelial cells help to keep the glans moisturized. Under normal circumstances the healthy male rat is able to adequately clean the penis and sheath, and prevent the buildup of secretions. In male rats where an orchiectomy neuter has been performed the development of urethral plugs is significantly decreased Bennett, Soft Tissue Surgery, , p.