Does My Semen Look Normal?
Chances are you probably wouldn't notice anything wrong with your semen unless it was something that stood out, like suddenly turning yellow or a shade of red. You may not be in the habit of giving your ejaculate a once-over now and then, but maybe it's time you start because a marked change in its appearance can herald a problem with your fertility or some other health issue.
If your semen has undergone a noticeable change in color or appears to be abnormally thick, it's worth examining. Find out when it's time to see someone about your semen by learning about some common issues.
If your semen has a white or grayish-white appearance, that's generally a good sign—fertility-wise—showing your sperm are in good supply and swimming free. But if you're ejaculating what looks like a watery, clear fluid, it probably means low sperm production or some other reproductive issue. That's something to discuss with your doctor.
A color change, though alarming, does not always tell of a serious underlying condition. For example, a prescription for a urinary tract infection (UTI) may be to blame if your semen has turned a shade of yellow or orange. On the other hand, yellow can also indicate the presence of a sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as gonorrhea. A slight yellowish coloring could also be a sign of infrequent ejaculation and semen that's been sitting around and aging (good for bourbon, bad for semen). A yellow or greenish color might also indicate the prostate infection known as prostatitis, especially if you notice a burning sensation when you urinate or ejaculate.
Jaundice, which causes a general yellowing of skin pigmentation, can have a similar effect on semen. Jaundice results when too much bilirubin, which forms when red blood cells break down, is left in the body—possibly signaling a liver issue. An excess of white blood cells can also account for the yellowing of semen and indicate the presence of leukocytospermia, a condition that can threaten your fertility.
Hematospermia, a condition in which the presence of blood gives semen a pinkish/reddish tint, is quite common. As startling as pink semen can be, it's likely not a serious issue, though it's in your best interest to see your doctor for peace of mind if nothing else. Hematospermia can result from an infection, residual trauma from a surgical procedure or leakage from a blood vessel that burst during ejaculation (which sounds scary, but is nothing to freak out about). Your doctor may recommend a simple urine test, look for a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or perform a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to rule out cancer.
Thick semen can be more difficult to recognize than a change in color because semen consistency alters rapidly after ejaculation. Don't fret if you see what looks like gelatinous globs, but be aware that thickened semen could mean fertility problems are on the horizon because it's more difficult for sperm to move around in thick semen. If you suspect a problem, ask your doctor about scheduling a semen analysis.
Thick semen, known clinically as semen hyperviscosity, is diagnosed in 12 to 29 percent of males, according to a 2013 review in Frontiers in Bioscience journal. Causes include dehydration, infection, prostate problems and infrequent ejaculation. Fortunately, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and enzymes can help improve sperm motility and increase sperm counts.
Let your doctor do the worrying
A good rule of thumb: If your urine is yellow and your semen is white, everything is right. But don't panic if you're seeing a different spectrum. Most of the time, there's no real cause for concern.
If you just can't get the sight of unusually colored or thick semen out of your head, remember there are plenty of non-threatening reasons for changes in your ejaculate. The cause could be something as simple as your diet—perhaps a newfound love of beets, artificial colorings in foods or dehydration from drinking too little water. Foods can bring funkiness to your semen. But if you're alarmed for any reason, remember you can always be open with your physician about what you've been experiencing.