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What Factors Affect Sperm Color?

By Christina Edwards
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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White is typically considered a healthy sperm color, although it can also be slightly yellow at times. Yellow or greenish sperm may also be a sign of a serious infection, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms. Pink, red, or brown sperm may mean that a man has blood in his semen, and this can be the sign of an infection or injury. Semen color can change from day to day, and a sudden change or a change accompanied by discomfort or a foul odor should be checked by a physician.

The medical term for male ejaculate is semen, but many people refer to it as sperm. When one refers to sperm color, he is usually referring to the color of semen. Usually, semen is white or grayish in color, due to the large amount of proteins present in the secretions.

Yellow may also be a normal sperm color for some men. This can occur when the ejaculate contains a large quantity of dead sperm. If a man does not ejaculate for several months or years, the sperm in his body can die, resulting in a yellow ejaculate. Usually, the sperm color will return to a normal white color after he has ejaculated a few times.

Urine may be another cause of yellow sperm. This can occur when a man urinates a small amount around the same time that he ejaculates. Emptying the bladder before ejaculation should result in a normal sperm color.

Yellow or green sperm may also indicate a more serious problem, such as an infection. A urinary tract infection (UTI) or an infection in the prostate could cause a man's sperm to appear yellow, for instance. Some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) may also cause a yellow or green sperm color. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are two STDs that may cause green sperm.

Usually, if an unusual sperm color is due to an infection of the male reproductive system, a man will have other symptoms as well. Abnormal discharge from the penis and a foul odor are other symptoms of an infection of this sort, for example. Pain, itching, or burning may also be present.

Ejaculated sperm may also have a red or pink tinge to it as well, and this is usually the result of blood in the ejaculate. This condition is known as hematospermia. It can occur when small blood vessels in the male reproductive system become damaged. It is common after a vasectomy, for instance. If the sperm color returns to normal within a few days, this is usually nothing to worry about.

On the other hand, it could indicate a serious problem if the color of the sperm remains pink or red. Brown sperm may also be a concern, since it could mean that there is dried blood in the sperm. Disease or injury of any part of the male reproductive system, including the prostate or testicles, could result in hematospermia.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon1003153 — On May 10, 2020

I went to bed four days ago after a long day at work on my laptop amidst a pile of papers. The next day I felt a bad pain on the left side of my lower abdomen and my penis was erect. It would not go down completely and I had to place an object between the legs just to let me go back to sleep. My condition did not improve until the next day when I managed to take a walk. Imperfect as the walk was, I had to remain in bed until the pain subsided sufficiently for me to get up and about. The pain has not gone completely but I have noticed that my semen discharge is now a dull dirty deep brown in color-- or could that be blood which is bright red? My urine is clear and healthy. I have eaten walnuts for the past four/five days. munched an entire full bag of them as I attended to my paper work. What does this mean?

By anon1001878 — On Jul 14, 2019

What is the side effect of masturbation? Is it healthy or does it need to be stopped?

By Patti123 — On Jul 01, 2019

My husband is 83 and this morning his semen was not the usual creamy white but a transparent medium brown color. I am concerned. Can you advise please?

By anon993012 — On Oct 17, 2015

What color is a sperm by itself without the seminal fluid?

By anon992366 — On Sep 02, 2015

I just masturbated for the first time in a while and the semen was yellowish-white. Is this normal or is this a sign of infection?

By SeanH — On Sep 02, 2015

A major downside to masturbation is the possibility of damaged penis skin. This can be painful and inconvenient. But there are penis health cremes on the market that moisturize and protect the skin from all sorts of irritations. They take just seconds to apply but will save you from a lot of grief. Trust me.

By anon991579 — On Jul 01, 2015

My right testis has become larger than the left one and also there is slight inflammation in my right spermatic cord. Since this condition started, I don't have nocturnal emissions, but if I ejaculate, then my semen color is yellow and low in quantity. Please tell me what I should do.

By anon977171 — On Nov 09, 2014

What is the side effect of masturbation? Is it healthy or does it need to be stopped?

By anon327184 — On Mar 26, 2013

When I masturbated, I used to hold the ejaculate in so that it wouldn't spray out (sometimes physically, sometimes just using the muscles). I don't do that anymore, but is that bad to do? And secondly, could that have caused my semen to become yellow if I had done it for a few years?

By anon322108 — On Feb 26, 2013

My right testis has become larger than the left one and also there is slight inflammation in my right spermatic cord. Since this condition started, I don't have nocturnal emissions, but if I ejaculate, then my semen color is yellow and low in quantity. Please tell me what I should do.

By anon307612 — On Dec 05, 2012

My right testis has become larger than the left one and also there is slight inflammation in my right spermatic cord. Since this condition started, I don't have nocturnal emissions, but if I ejaculate, then my semen color is yellow and low in quantity. Please tell me what I should do.

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