Semen is typically whitish-gray in color with a jelly-like texture. This can vary slightly depending on your genes, lifestyle, and overall health.

Unless you’re experiencing other symptoms, temporary changes in color usually aren’t cause for concern.

Read on to find out what yellow, green, brown, and other colors may mean, when to get treatment, and more.

clear, white, or grayyellowgreenpinkredbrownorangeblack
heavy metalsxxx
high blood pressurexx
jaundicex
leukocytospermiax
“normal”x
prostate biopsy or surgeryxxxx
prostate, testicular, or urethral cancerxxxx
prostatitisxxxxxx
sexually transmitted diseasexxxx
spinal cord injuriesxx
substance usex
urine in semenx
abstinencexx

Clear, white, or gray semen is considered typical or healthy.

What is semen made of?

Your semen is made up of a variety of minerals, proteins, hormones, and enzymes. They all contribute to the color and texture of semen.

The substances in semen primarily come from the seminal vesicles, two glands located behind the bladder. The prostate gland contributes to semen as well. Substances in semen include:

  • citric acid
  • acid phosphatase
  • zinc
  • potassium
  • ascorbic acid
  • fibrinolysin
  • mucus

The testes also release sperm into the semen, which makes up around 5 percent of semen volume.

Yellow or green semen is usually associated with:

Urine in your semen

A blockage can keep urine from completely leaving your urethra — the tube that drains urine out of your bladder — when you pee. This is known as urinary retention.

Semen passing through the urethra can get mixed together with trapped or leftover urine, giving your semen a yellowish tint. This is most common if you ejaculate shortly after you pee.

Some causes may require medical attention, including:

Jaundice

Jaundice happens when too much bilirubin builds up in your body. Bilirubin is a yellowish pigment left behind when your liver breaks down red blood cells.

The most common symptom is yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes, but it can turn your semen yellow, too.

Other symptoms of jaundice include chills, fever, and abdominal pain.

Leukocytospermia

Leukocytospermia happens when too many white blood cells (leukocytes) are present in your semen. This can tint your semen yellow.

Causes can include:

See a doctor if you suspect leukocytospermia. Some causes, such as chlamydia, can result in infertility if left untreated.

Prostate infection (prostatitis)

Yellow semen can be caused by a prostate infection. This can happen when bacteria from your urinary tract gets into your prostate gland.

Other symptoms may include:

See a doctor if you suspect prostatitis.

A pink or red tinge is usually a symptom of fresh blood. A brownish or orange tinge is typically a symptom of older bloodshed. Blood may turn this color after it has been exposed to oxygen.

Bloody semen is known as hematospermia, which is usually associated with:

Prostate biopsy or surgery

A biopsy involves taking a tissue sample from your prostate gland.

The procedure may introduce blood into your urinary tract or ejaculatory ducts, where it can mix with your semen and cause it to turn reddish, pinkish, or brownish.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) can sometimes cause blood to appear in your semen, especially if the condition isn’t being treated.

In some cases, you may not experience any other symptoms.

In severe cases, you may also experience shortness of breath, bloody nose, or headaches.

STDs

STDs like herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhea can cause blood to appear in your semen.

Other symptoms of these STDs can include:

  • pain or burning while peeing
  • pain or swelling in your testicles
  • unusual yellow or colored discharge from your penis
  • itchy, irritating, or painful rash

Prostate infection (prostatitis)

Research indicates that prostatitis may also cause bloody semen.

Other symptoms may include:

  • difficulty peeing
  • pain when peeing
  • feeling the need to pee often
  • lower abdominal pain
  • pain in your lower back
  • pain during ejaculation
  • fever
  • chills

Abstinence

Not having an orgasm for a long time, or stopping yourself before ejaculation, may cause blood to get in your semen. The release of semen from overly full seminal vesicles may cause irritation and lead to the bleeding.

This usually isn’t cause for concern and often resolves on its own.

Prostate or testicular cancers

In rare cases, bloody semen may be a symptom of prostate or testicular cancer. These cancers are often treated successfully, even at later stages.

Prostate and testicular cancer usually have no symptoms. Still, symptoms may include:

  • difficulty peeing
  • needing to pee frequently
  • pain when peeing
  • persistent pain in your back, hips, or pelvis
  • pain when ejaculating
  • pain in your testicles

Black semen is usually caused by hematospermia. Black blood is generally old blood that’s been in your body for a while.

Black semen may also be associated with:

Spinal cord injuries

Injuries to your spinal cord may result in dark brown- or black-colored semen. Although the exact reason is unknown, research suggests that it may have something to do with a malfunction of the seminal vesicles. These glands produce some substances that make up semen.

If you haven’t already, see a doctor about your injury. They can assess whether it’s causing certain symptoms or if they’re the result of another underlying issue.

Heavy metals

An older study from 2013 found that high levels of heavy metals — such as lead, manganese, and nickel — in the blood may cause dark-colored semen.

This may result from exposure to contaminated food, water, or other environmental factors.

See a doctor if you think you’ve been exposed.

Healthy semen is typically viscous, or jelly-like.

You may experience slight variances in texture depending on:

Unless you’re experiencing other unusual symptoms, a temporary change in texture usually isn’t cause for concern.

See a doctor if you experience pain, discomfort, or fatigue along with a drastic change in your semen texture.

These symptoms, along with thickened semen, could be an indication of severe dehydration, hormonal imbalance, or infection. Thickened semen may also be caused by prostate inflammation.

Very thick semen can result in infertility because it prevents the sperm from moving effectively toward the egg.

Watery semen may be a symptom of vitamin deficiency or infertility.

The semen may look translucent or clearer than normal, indicating it contains a very small amount of sperm.

Your semen may show slight color changes throughout your life, even when you’re in good health.

Consider making an appointment with a doctor or other healthcare professional if you’re experiencing other unusual symptoms.

These include:

  • difficulty or complete inability to urinate
  • heaviness or swelling around your genital area
  • rash or irritation on your penis or scrotum
  • clear or cloudy discharge
  • cold- or flu-like symptoms
  • fever