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Bulbospongiosus muscle: want to learn more about it?

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Bulbospongiosus muscle

Bulbospongiosus muscle (Musculus bulbospongiosus)

Bulbospongiosus is a paired muscle of the pelvic floor. It is found in the superficial perineal space (pouch), together with the ischiocavernosus and superficial transverse perineal muscles. Bulbospongiosus is a sexually dimorphic muscle, meaning that it is different among sexes. In males, it is wrapped around the bulb of penis and corpus spongiosum, while in females it encircles the vaginal orifice.

In both sexes, the function of this muscle is based on its compressive actions upon the erectile tissues which it surrounds. In males, it facilitates urination, ejaculation and erection, while in females it contributes to the erection of the clitoris and emptying the greater vestibular glands. In addition, bulbospongiosus supports the perineal body in both sexes.

Key facts about the bulbospongiosus muscle
Origin Male: Perineal body, median penile raphe 
Female: Perineal body
Insertion Male: Perineal membrane, dorsal aspect of corpus spongiosum and corpora cavernosa, fascia of bulb of penis 
Female: Pubic arch, fascia of corpora cavernosa and clitoris
Action Male: Compresses bulb of penis during urination/ ejaculation, assists in erection of penis, supports perineal body 
Female: Assists in erection of clitoris/bulb of vestibule, supports perineal body
Innervation Deep branch of perineal nerve (of pudendal nerve) (S2-S4)
Blood supply Perineal artery

This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the bulbospongiosus muscle. 

Origin and insertion

The attachments of bulbospongiosus are different among males and females. In males, the muscle consists of two parts that are fused at the median fibrous raphe of penis. In addition, the fibers originate from several surrounding structures; perineal body, superficial transverse perineal muscle and external anal sphincter. From the raphe, the fibers extend in the superolateral direction to attach to several structures of the penis;

  • Posterior fibers fuse with the perineal membrane
  • Central part of the muscle surrounds the bulb of penis and corpus cavernosum and ends by blending with dorsal surfaces of their respective fasciae
  • Anterior part covers the sides of the corpora cavernosa, inserting to their dorsolateral sides and to the tendinous expansion that covers the dorsal vessels of the penis

In females, the two parts of the muscle are separate from each other. They both originate from the anterior surface of perineal body, after which they course on each side of the vagina. Both parts insert to the corpora cavernosa of clitoris.

Relations

In both sexes, the bulbospongiosus muscle is located in the superficial perineal space of perineum, anterior to the perineal body. In males, the muscle covers the bulb of penis and corpora cavernosa. In females, it is found on each side of vaginal orifice covering the bulbs of the vestibule.

Together with ischiocavernosus and superficial transverse perineal muscle, it comprises a triangular space filled with adipose tissue. Along with these two muscles, bulbospongiosus is invested within the deep perineal fascia (of Gallaudet).

Innervation

Bulbospongiosus is innervated by the deep branch of perineal nerve (S2-S4), which is a branch of the pudendal nerve.

Blood supply

Blood supply to bulbospongiosus comes from the internal pudendal artery, via its branch; the perineal artery.

Function

In males, the function of bulbospongiosus is to aid in emptying the penile urethra during urination and ejaculation. Together with the ischiocavernosus muscle, it compresses the bulb of penis and the deep dorsal vein of penis. This leads to the blockage of venous drainage from the penis, and consequential erection of the penis.

In females, it helps to empty the greater vestibular glands by constricting the vaginal orifice. The anterior fibers compress the deep dorsal vein of clitoris, facilitating the erection of this structure.

Bulbospongiosus muscle: want to learn more about it?

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Sign up for your free Kenhub account today and join over 1,300,460 successful anatomy students.

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more. Kim Bengochea Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver

Show references

References:

  • Cael, C. (2010). Functional anatomy: Musculoskeletal anatomy, kinesiology, and palpation for manual therapists. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.
  • Moore, K. L., Dalley, A. F., & Agur, A. M. R. (2014). Clinically Oriented Anatomy (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  • Netter, F. (2019). Atlas of Human Anatomy (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Saunders.
  • Palastanga, N., & Soames, R. (2012). Anatomy and human movement: structure and function (6th ed.). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
  • Standring, S. (2016). Gray's Anatomy (41tst ed.). Edinburgh: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.

Illustrators:

  • Bulbospongiosus muscle (Musculus bulbospongiosus) - Liene Znotina
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