Semen colour – what does it mean?

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We might all be hoping for a white Christmas – but what about when it comes to your semen colour? Culturally (read: in porn and NSFW jokes) semen is generally depicted as being white, but the truth is, that’s not always the case.

Semen can come in a variety of colours – some are totally normal and healthy and others might be a sign you need to check in with your doctor – so we’ve created our very own colour chart to help you figure out what your semen sample is telling you. 

 

Clear, white or grey semen colour 

If your semen sample is white, clear or grey in colour – then good news! It’s all looking healthy. Semen can vary in colour but generally speaking if it’s on the white, creamy side of the spectrum then it’s a sign of good health. 

Your ejaculate is made up of a bunch of minerals, proteins, hormones, and enzymes and they all contribute to its colouring – and most of those are produced by your prostate gland.  

They include:

  • citric acid
  • acid phosphatase
  • calcium
  • sodium
  • zinc
  • potassium
  • protein-splitting enzymes
  • Fibrinolysin

And an imbalance of these can contribute to a less desirable sperm sample shade (but we’ll come on to that in a minute) 

If your sperm sample is grey, white or clear then it looks like everything is in working order. That said, it’s important to remember that just because your semen is a healthy colour, it doesn’t always mean that the sperm it contains are healthy. The only way to know what’s going on with your swimmers is to check it out under a microscope – but luckily we’ve made that easier than ever with our at-home sperm test. 

 

Yellow or green semen colour 

Just like yellow snow isn’t what you want to see, yellow or green semen could be a sign that something is not quite right. 

One of the causes of this colour change could be that there are traces of urine in your semen. Usually, this happens if you are having sex (or getting personal with a testing cup) shortly after peeing – so it’s not something to panic about. 

It could also be down to excessive drinking or even eating certain foods that are high in sulfur – like onions and garlic. So, if you’ve given a sample after a boozy curry night – that could explain things. 

However, if it happens regularly, it could be a sign of a UTI (urinary tract infection) or an infection of your prostate – both of which would likely show other symptoms, like pain when peeing, ejaculating or general pain in your abdomen.  If that’s the case, definitely go and speak to your doctor and they’ll be able to help you. 

Yellow semen could also be a sign of Leukocytospermia – not comfortable to say, and not comfortable to live with. Leukocytospermia is basically when you have too many white blood cells (leukocytes)  in your semen, which can tint your semen yellow. 

Again, an infected prostate could be the cause here, but it could also be done to an undetected STI, like chlamydia. If you suspect Leukocytospermia could be the culprit of your semen’s colour change, speak to your doc ASAP and get yourself booked in for an STI test – as untreated sexually transmitted infections can cause infertility down the line. 

 

Pink, red or brown semen colour  

If there is a pink, brown or red tinge to your semen, it’s probably a sign that some blood has made its way in there. This can be scary but don’t panic – there could be a simple explanation. 

If you’ve recently had surgery or a biopsy on your prostate, there could be some residual blood that has snuck into your semen – but this should resolve itself as you heal. Another cause could be a particularly vigorous sex session (or masturbation if you’re riding solo) – especially if you haven’t ejaculated in a while.  Again, this shouldn’t be a cause for concern (although it might be a sign you need to be coming more often!)

 Our old sexually transmitted mates, also make their way onto this part of the colour spectrum. STDs like herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhoea can cause blood to appear in your semen – along with a bunch of other not nice symptoms. As a general rule, if things aren’t looking right with your semen colour, go and get a quick STI test just in case.  

In very rare cases, blood in your semen can be a sign of testicular, prostate or urethral cancers. Obviously, that’s not something you want to think about – but it’s always better to investigate than bury your head in the sand. If you’re experiencing regular blood in your semen and notice other symptoms like pain in your balls, bum or abdomen then get on to your doctor straight away,  

 

Brown or Black semen colour 

Now, this is incredibly rare – and we appreciate no one wants to see black stuff coming out of their penis – but if this happens it’s usually down to old blood that has got into your urethra. If this is the case then take the same advice as we laid out above – and be aware of other symptoms you could be experiencing. 

The other thing that could be causing this semen colour phenomenon is a spinal cord injury.   Doctors are unsure exactly why this can happen but think that it may have something to do with a seminal vesicle malfunction – as these are some of the glands responsible for semen production. If you’ve experienced a recent spinal cord injury, you’re likely already in regular contact with your doctor  – so it might be worth mentioning this to them.   

The topline is that if you are at all concerned about the colour of your semen, check in with our doctor immediately. Men so often put these things off but getting medical advice will either put your mind at ease or get you the support you need faster – so it’s a win/win either way.

And remember – the colour of your semen doesn’t necessarily tell you what’s going on with your fertility. If you’re concerned it’s taking longer than you would like to get pregnant – or you’re just curious about how your swimmers are doing – check out our at home sperm tests. 

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