Discolored sperm, especially yellow sperm, typically raises alarms for a man; however, yellow semen usually has natural and benign causes. It is a common belief among many doctors that yellow sperm is rarely ever a sign of anything permanently damaging to the man or his fertility. In fact, the worst case scenario for a man who experiences a yellow semen color involves only a round of antibiotics. The most common causes of yellow semen are urine, age, diet and infection.
Semen is the reproductive fluid that contains sperm (spermatozoa). Sperm is the male sex cell that fertilizes the female ovum. It is made inside vessels of the testicles called seminiferous tubules. Later, it matures in the epididymis and vas deferens and travels through the urethra suspended in semen.
As semen travels through the urethra before exiting the body, leftover urine in the urethra may exit with the sperm. This is very natural and a common occurrence among many men. It is likely to happen more than once, but does not require any action. A sign that the yellow semen was caused by urine is the semen being a very light tint of yellow as opposed to a darker shade of yellow. In most cases, this yellow tint goes unnoticed.
Semen usually turns a more yellow color as a man becomes older. This change is gradual and typically does not mean that the semen will be yellow with every ejaculation. In most cases, the semen will appear to be more yellow after an older man goes longer stretches without ejaculation; however, this may also happen with a younger man at times. There is usually no need for any action as the sperm is still healthy and viable.
A man’s diet affects the color of his semen as well. Food especially high in sulfur can cause yellow semen. The main kinds of food that contain sulfur and may change semen yellow include chives, onions, shallots and garlic. This also includes medications and multivitamins, which may also cause the semen to turn a light yellow color. It is entirely normal for this to occur, and it is not necessary to discontinue the diet.
Another common cause for yellow semen is infection. This is the first assumption of many men, and most doctors believe it is more likely to be the cause with younger men. Other signs that the yellow semen is a result of infection include greenish tints, a foul odor, and pain in the genital area. The most common infection is epididymitis, which is caused by prostate infection and can be easily cured with a round of antibiotics. Other infections, such as those caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STD) are also typically eliminated with antibiotics.
What Does Yellow Sperm Mean?
Healthy semen often looks white or grayish-white, but if your semen has a slight yellow tint, it is generally not a cause for concern. Slightly discolored semen typically has benign causes that don’t affect your semen’s health or fertility. However, if the color of your semen is severely off, such as if it is a bright yellow or green, it may be a sign of infection.
The most common reasons your semen might be yellow are infection, diet, age, and urine in the semen, and you only need to consider it if the yellow color is a result of infection. However, this can usually be treated with a simple antibiotics regimen. Infection may also be the cause if your semen has a green tint or a strange odor, or if there is a pain in your genitals. If this is the case, you may have epididymitis caused by an infection in the prostate.
Certain foods can affect the color of your sperm and make it appear yellow. Sulfur, which is rich in some foods such as garlic, onions, shallots, and chives can be a reason for yellow semen. Some multivitamins and medications may also affect the color of your semen. Tuberculosis medications in particular can cause yellow semen.
Your age has to do with the color of your semen, as well. You may notice your semen gradually becoming more yellow as you age. This is natural and not a cause for concern, as it does not affect your fertility or health.
Because both urine and semen travel through the urethra, semen can absorb some urine in the urethra as it travels out of your penis. This is generally not an issue, but if you frequently retain urine, it may be a sign of urinary tract infection or an enlarged prostate.
Some sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, can also cause discolored semen. If this is the case, you will also feel a burning sensation when you ejaculate and the semen will smell odd.
Jaundice can cause semen to appear yellow. Jaundice is the result of large amounts of bilirubin in your system and is caused by a variety of issues, such as pancreatic or gallbladder cancer, alcohol use, or autoimmune disorders, among other possible explanations.
Leukocytospermia is a condition that can make your semen take on a yellow tint. This ailment results when there are too many white blood cells in your semen. Leukocytospermia can potentially damage your sperm and reduce its overall health. Alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco use can cause leukocytospermia, as can infections and autoimmune disorders. In addition to yellow semen, swelling in your penis or groin can be a sign of leukocytospermia.
What If There Is Yellow Sperm After Abstinence?
While more common in older men, younger men can also experience yellow semen if there is a lengthy period between ejaculations. Semen that stays in the seminal vesicles for a long time may become thick and change color. Again, there is no reason to worry if this occurs. However, infrequent ejaculation can help contribute to leukocytospermia, so it’s healthiest to have regular ejaculations.
What Can I Do If My Sperm Is Yellow?
There are a few remedies for yellow semen you can try if you want your semen to regain its white color.
First, alcohol and tobacco don’t help. Tobacco can affect the health of your semen and alcohol causes toxins to build up in your body, which may affect the color of your semen.
Low testosterone may contribute to yellow semen. Testosterone naturally lessens with age. You can try using testosterone boosters to reattain a white color in your semen.
Finally, dehydration may be a cause. Drink lots of water and some fruit juices. Try to drink at least three liters of water each day.
How Can I Keep My Sperm Healthy?
Some common activities can affect the health of your sperm. These include:
- Too much coffee. A little coffee can improve the mobility of your sperm, but too much can cause genetic mutations that hurt its fertilization potential.
- Too much heat. Too many hot baths can reduce your sperm count. Avoid anything that can heat your sperm.
- Too much cycling. While cycling has other health benefits, it can detract from the health of your sperm. The shape and quality of your sperm may be harmed, and excessive cycling can even lead to infertility.
- Too much laptop use. Your sperm’s health can be negatively affected if it’s near electronics. Wi-Fi signals are also not healthy for your sperm.
- Not enough red in your diet. Red foods are often high in lycopene, which improves the overall health of your sperm.