Men Home > A Quick Guide to Discolored Semen

Most men know what their semen should look like. When the color appears abnormal, however, is it time to worry? Not necessarily. Many different things can cause discolored semen, and the problem often goes away on its own. If it lasts for longer than a few days, however, or if other symptoms are present, you should see your doctor.


What's Normal?

As a guy, you likely have a very good idea of what a normal color for semen is. That is, unless you've had discolored semen for quite some time, in which case you may have forgotten what normal looks like. There are slight variations of normal, but healthy semen is typically a cloudy whitish color.
Should you worry right away if you notice a change in your semen color? Not necessarily. Instead of panicking, do a bit of "watchful waiting" to see if the change persists or if it was temporary. Temporary changes are usually nothing to worry about. It might have been caused by something you ate or a change in ejaculation frequency (either more or less sex or masturbation than usual).
However, if your semen color doesn't return to normal within a week or two, it's probably time to talk to your doctor. Also, if you're having any other symptoms at all, it's best to see a doctor sooner rather than later.
Keep reading for a description of some of the common color changes and what they might mean.

Semen Colors

As mentioned previously, white and similar cream or greyish colors are normal. Green or yellow semen may indicate a prostate infection. Yellow could also mean urine in the semen (nothing to worry about) or could be due to something you ate. In some men, taking vitamin B supplements can cause yellowish semen, too.
Red can mean blood, as can pink or brown. The blood can come from various areas of the reproductive or urinary tract, such as the prostate or urethra. It can occur due various problems, such as an injury, infection, or cancer (this is rare). While blood in the semen can be quite frightening, it often goes away on its own and sometimes has no known cause. Also, some medications (such as rifampin) can cause red semen (as well as red urine, red tears, and red sweat).
What about clear semen? Some guys say that they notice clear semen when they're very sexually active (either with a partner or solo). It's also been suggested that boys who've just entered puberty may have clear semen for a while. You may have heard or read that having clear semen means you have a low sperm count. That's just not true. Ask any guy who has had a vasectomy (and therefore has zero sperm in his semen).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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