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Corpus cavernosum penis
Transverse section of the penis.
The constituent cavernous cylinders of the penis.
Part ofPenis
ArteryCavernous artery[1]
VeinInternal pudendal veins[1]
Latincorpus cavernosum penis
Anatomical terminology

A corpus cavernosum penis (singular) (literally "porous[2] body" of the penis, pl.: corpora cavernosa) is one of a pair of sponge-like regions of erectile tissue, which contain most of the blood in the penis during an erection.[3][4][5]

It is homologous to the corpus cavernosum clitoridis in the female.


The corpora cavernosa are two expandable erectile tissues along the length of the penis, which fill with blood during penile erection. The two corpora cavernosa lie along the penile shaft, from the pubic bones to the head of the penis, where they join. These formations are made of a sponge-like tissue containing trabeculae, irregular blood-filled spaces lined by endothelium and separated by septum of the penis.[6][7]

The male anatomy has no vestibular bulbs, but instead a corpus spongiosum, a smaller region of erectile tissue along the bottom of the penis, which contains the urethra and forms the glans penis.


In some circumstances, release of nitric oxide precedes relaxation of muscles in the corpora cavernosa and corpus spongiosum, in a process similar to female arousal. The spongy tissue fills with blood, from arteries down the length of the penis. A little blood enters the corpus spongiosum; the remainder engorges the corpora cavernosa, which expand to hold 90% of the blood involved in an erection, increasing both in length and in diameter. The function of the corpus spongiosum is to prevent compression of the urethra during erection.

Blood can leave the erectile tissue only through a drainage system of veins around the outside wall of the corpus cavernosum. The expanding spongy tissue presses against a surrounding dense tissue (tunica albuginea) constricting these veins, preventing blood from leaving. The penis becomes rigid as a result. The glans penis, the expanded cap of the corpus spongiosum, remains more malleable during erection because its tunica albuginea is much thinner than elsewhere in the penis.

Additional images

See also


  1. ^ a b Panchatsharam, Pranau K.; Durland, Justin; Zito, Patrick M. (1 May 2023). "Physiology, Erection". StatPearls. Treasure Island, Florida: StatPearls Publishing. Retrieved 20 November 2023.
  2. ^ Charlton T. Lewis; Charles Short (eds.). "cavernosus". A Latin Dictionary – via Logeion.
  3. ^ Werner Lierse (6 December 2012). Applied Anatomy of the Pelvis. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 978-3-642-71368-2.
  4. ^ Heide Schatten; Gheorghe M. Constantinescu (21 March 2008). Comparative Reproductive Biology. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-39025-2.
  5. ^ Michele Bertolotto (22 December 2007). Color Doppler US of the Penis. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 157–. ISBN 978-3-540-36677-5.
  6. ^ "Embarrassing erections". 2007-01-17. Archived from the original on 2007-01-02. Retrieved 2007-01-17.
  7. ^ "Understanding a man's erection". whitelotuseast. Archived from the original on 2020-07-16. Retrieved 2011-05-18.[better source needed]