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What Are the Common Causes of Green Semen?

By C. K. Lanz
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Consistently green semen that persists for more than three weeks is a likely indicator of a prostate infection or prostatitis. Semen is typically a cloudy white fluid but can turn yellow or green from bacteria and pus. The consistency and color of an individual’s semen will vary depending on diet, age, and ejaculation frequency. In most cases, such changes are temporary and harmless. Individuals who note a persistent change in appearance and odor of their semen should consider consulting with a medical care professional.

Human semen is an organic fluid that can contain spermatozoa, enzymes, and fructose. It is produced in the seminal vesicle and secreted by the gonads. This fluid is usually translucent or cloudy with a white, gray, or slightly yellowish coloring.

An individual’s age, diet and frequency of ejaculation are all factors that can affect the consistency and coloring of his semen. For example, coffee, alcohol, and red meat are all believed to be sources of bitter or salty-tasting ejaculations. Sources of milder-tasting semen include fruit, celery, and cinnamon. For most men, such changes are temporary and harmless.

If a change in color or consistency of semen is consistent and persists for at least three weeks, it could be an indication of an underlying health problem. Yellow-tinted semen can indicate the presence of urine. Semen that is pink, red, or dark brown may be the result of bleeding in the prostate. A male hormone deficiency can present as thick or lumpy semen.

Yellow, gold, or green semen can be a symptom of a prostate infection. The color is the result of pus or bacteria in the ejaculation. It is also possible for the amount of semen to decrease because the prostate is swollen and blocking the prostatic ducts.

Prostatitis is a condition characterized by the swelling and inflammation of the prostate gland, located directly underneath the bladder. This gland is the size of a walnut and produces the semen that transports sperm. Most individuals with prostatitis appear healthy and may be reluctant to discuss any symptoms or pain due to the private area of anatomy affected.

A common symptom of prostatitis is difficult or painful urination. Other possible signs include pain in the pelvic area or genitals, painful ejaculation, and flu-like symptoms. A person with these symptoms in addition to consistently green semen probably has some type of prostatitis.

As a result of the infection, pus and bacteria in the prostate can cause yellow or green semen. Fluid from the infected prostate mixes with sperm from the testicles, resulting in green semen. When confirming a diagnosis, a doctor may request a semen sample to examine for signs of infection.

This condition can be caused by bacteria, but often the cause is never known. Injury to the prostate is another other possible cause. Some cases are acute, while others are chronic. Antibiotics are the most common treatment, administered orally or intravenously for four to six weeks. Alpha blockers, pain relievers, and prostate massage are other available treatment options.

Normal Semen

As we know, semen is the fluid secreted by a man for purposes of reproduction and pleasure. It is a cloudy, white-colored substance ejaculated from the penis during sexual activity. However, certain instances and criteria may cause the discoloration of semen. 

A man who ejaculates often may notice his semen is clear and watery. A man who ejaculates less frequently will find his semen very white with a high viscosity.

Sometimes, however, semen is neither white nor clear but an odd yellow or green color. Doctors have established that diet and general health of a man can and will affect his semen. If there’s slight discoloration, Mayo Clinic advises keeping an eye on it. If the problem persists longer than a week, seek treatment from your doctor as soon as possible.

Jaundice

The clinic advises that yellow or green semen could be from an infection or jaundice. Jaundice is a condition in which excess amounts of bilirubin, a fluid left behind when the body breaks down blood cells, build up in your body. It’s more common that this illness will turn your skin and the whites of your eyes a yellowish color, but it can also affect the semen.

Jaundice is a less-common reason for discolored semen but is worth noting.

Pyospermia 

A man with pyospermia might notice his semen has a different color. 

Pyospermia occurs because of an increased number of white blood cells in the semen. The usual threshold for the condition is that more than 1 million white blood cells show up in just one millimeter of semen. Besides changing the color of the semen, the blood cells can damage the fluid’s genetic material.

Causes of pyospermia include tobacco use, infections like gonorrhea, inflation, and autoimmune issues. While it is a serious condition, only 5% of men have pyospermia.

If you have pyospermia, your doctor will take measures to reduce the white blood cell count in your semen. Antibiotics are a helpful treat so long as a patient takes the full course. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications represent a secondary treatment method for discolored semen.

Patients should understand that antibiotic treatments will require follow-up visits three months after they finish the medicine.

Medical professionals also recommend that men limit tobacco and alcohol use so men can naturally reduce white blood cells present in semen. 

What to Expect When Seeking Care

While the tests that doctors can perform to diagnose a condition like prostatitis are uncomfortable for most men, they are crucial in determining the underlying causes and how to respond.

Here are a few tests your doctor might utilize:

  • Digital Rectal Exam - a physical examination of the prostate
  • Ultrasound - uses sound waves to “see” the prostate
  • Urine test - helps determine if the bladder is the source of the issue
  • Prostate fluid tests - helps determine if the prostate is the cause
  • Cystoscopy - after numbing the urethra, the doctor examines the bladder more thoroughly

Doctors may also draw blood or test semen for infections. The thorough nature of the tests helps doctors ascertain where the issues began to give adequate treatment.

Treatments for Prostatitis

Antibiotics are typically the go-to for treating an infection such as prostatitis. But what antibiotics can you expect your doctor to prescribe? What effects do they have?

  • Alpha-blockers help relax muscles in the bladder and prostate
  • Anti-inflammatory agents reduce pain
  • Prostate massage lets fluid drain from the prostate to help it relax

You should also prepare for your doctor to advise you to make a few lifestyle changes if your prostate is to blame for discolored semen or any other issues in your body.

Other Reasons for Discolored Semen

It’s crucial to remember that the semen passes through the urethra, the tube in the penis through which urine travels. While the body prevents someone from ejaculating and urinating simultaneously, doctors can observe traces of urine in a man’s semen, explaining a slight yellow tint.

The body will tell you if there is an issue or infection present. Listen to it, treat it right, and when things don’t look good, be sure to seek medical attention. If you notice your semen has an abnormal green or yellow color, get prompt advice from a doctor.

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Discussion Comments

By anon961653 — On Jul 19, 2014

I'm not a doctor but the ones I spoke to were clueless, so I had to work it out myself. There are a number of possible causes, according to the internet that is, which I'll list to save you a lot of research on google. Trial and error will show you which one applies to you.

1) STD: You should know if this is likely, get yourself tested.

2) Prostate infection: I'd have thought you'd know about this as well if you have one given the other problems it can cause just going for a pee. These can be chronic apparently, as it’s difficult for antibiotics to get in. The home remedy some people seem to recommend after giving up on the medical profession is 'milking' the prostate with a finger. You get the gist and can lookup the procedure yourself. I would have thought ejaculating a lot and doing exercise would also help.

3) Prostate cancer: I wouldn't worry about this unless it's brown, which would indicate blood. If you've just done a lot of strenuous exercise, that's probably the cause. See a doctor anyway.

4) Dehydration: I don't see how but some people said it. Drinking a lot of water just made me pee a lot.

5) Urine in the semen: This may be left in your tubes after you go and mixes in when you ejaculate. I'd have thought this should be cleared out by pre-ejaculate, but I don't know. I suppose you could test it by drinking a lot of water until your urine goes clear or do pelvic exercises to strengthen your muscles to help expel everything.

6) Lipofuscin: This is what gives semen color and it’s essentially crud left over from the processing job done in your liver when it cleans out and breaks down stuff from your blood. Why it ends up in the seminal fluid is a mystery to me, but there you are. When things are fine there isn't enough there to see it.

As you get older, you get more of it as the liver ages (its an age related pigment) so semen tends to turn more yellow (Lipofuscin apparently builds up in the brain too and may have something to do with Alzheimer’s). Having eliminated the other options, it’s then a question of what is causing the lipofuscin, and I reasoned its either something the body needs, which it isn’t getting enough of like vitamins, or something harmful it’s getting too much of which brings me to…

7) Alcohol: In case you didn’t know, poisons -- like alcohol -- are broken down in the liver and this is what I eventually concluded was the problem. It's easy enough to test. Take a month off the booze and see what happens. I say a month because semen production is a long process and effects will take a while. Ask yourself if you only drink at the weekend is it better or worse for the next day or two. Apparently, Acetyl-L-carnitine also helps flush lipofuscin from the body. This is produced by strenuous exercise.

Of course, it could be something to do with booze that isn't lipofuscin at all but thinking like that got me my answer. Cut out drinking and start exercising. Who knew?

By fify — On Oct 28, 2013

@burcidi-- STDs can definitely cause green semen. The first one that comes to mind is gonorrhea but I'm sure that others, like chlamydia and syphilis can cause green semen too.

But if that's the case, green semen probably won't be the only symptom. You would also experience burning while urinating and odd colored or odd smelling discharge aside from semen. It's still a good idea to get checked out though, especially if you've had unprotected sex in the recent past.

By burcidi — On Oct 27, 2013

Can STDs cause green semen? Which STDs are most likely to?

By fBoyle — On Oct 27, 2013

It's true that green semen is a sign of infection. I had green semen when I had prostatitis. My prostate was infected because urine was entering my prostate. I should have guessed this because shortly before my semen turned green, it looked slightly yellow for a while. If I had seen a doctor at that time, I could have prevented the infection. But better late than never I guess.

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