Semen is typically whitish-gray with a jelly-like texture, but it can fluctuate with different lifestyle changes. Unless you’re experiencing other symptoms, temporary changes in the color of your semen usually aren’t a cause for concern.

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

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

Specific substances in semen include:

  • fructose
  • amino acids
  • citric acid
  • phosphorus
  • potassium
  • acid phosphatase
  • calcium
  • sodium
  • zinc
  • potassium
  • fibrinolysin
  • mucus

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

Sometimes these conditions can be ruled out based on your individual circumstances.

A sexually transmitted infection (STI), for example, can generally be eliminated if you’ve never engaged in partnered sexual contact.

The chart below is a good a starting point, but it isn’t a substitute for medical advice.

It’s best to consult with a urologist, primary care physician, or other healthcare professional if you’re unable to pinpoint a cause, or if you’re unsure of your health status.

Yellow-green semenPinkish-red semenOrange-brown semenBlack semen
Heavy metalsXX
High blood pressureX
Prostate biopsy or surgeryXX
Prostate or testicular cancerXX
Sexually transmitted infectionXX
Spinal cord injuryXX
Substance useX

Clear, white, or slightly gray semen is usually considered healthy.


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:

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:

Consult a healthcare professional if you suspect prostatitis.


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

Causes include autoimmune disorders and bacterial or viral infections.

Consult a healthcare professional if you suspect leukocytospermia. Some causes, like certain STIs, can result in infertility if left untreated.


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. Your urine may also become darker than usual.

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

Consult a healthcare professional if you suspect jaundice.

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.

Infection, including STIs and prostatitis

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and other STIs can cause blood to appear in your semen when left untreated.

Other STI symptoms can include:

Research indicates that prostatitis may also cause bloody semen.

Consult a healthcare professional if you suspect an underlying infection. Certain STIs can result in infertility if left untreated.

High blood pressure (hypertension)

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

In severe cases, you may also experience broken blood vessels in the eye, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, or headaches.

Consult a healthcare professional if you suspect hypertension.

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.

Consult your physician if you have questions or concerns following a prostate procedure.

Prostate or testicular cancer

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

Early diagnosis and treatment are essential, so consult with a healthcare professional if you have concerns.

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

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, consult a healthcare professional about your injury. They can assess whether it’s causing certain symptoms or if they’re the result of another underlying condition.

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.

Consult a healthcare professional 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.

Thick or chunky semen

Thick semen could be an indication of severe dehydration, hormonal imbalance, or infection.

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

Thin or watery semen

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.

Consult a healthcare professional if you’re concerned about STIs or if your semen is accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms:

Your clinician may perform a penile and testicular exam and swab the tip of the penis to take a fluid sample for lab testing. They may also ask for a blood, urine, or semen sample.

What’s the difference between semen and sperm?

Sperm is a part of semen, but semen isn’t a part of sperm. Semen, also called ejaculate, is a whitish fluid that comes out of the penis.

This fluid often contains sperm, which are tiny reproductive cells that are invisible to the naked eye. Sperm are responsible for fertilization.

What semen color and texture is healthy?

Clear, milky white, and cloudy gray semen that has a jelly-like texture is typically considered healthy.

But a range of shades, textures, and amounts are considered typical. Natural fluctuations in your overall health can cause temporary changes in color or texture.

What semen color and texture is unhealthy?

If your semen is a different color than usual, take a few moments to scan your body for other changes.

Semen that’s tinged with yellow, green, pink, red, orange, or brown isn’t ideal, but it may not be cause for concern unless it’s accompanied by other unusual symptoms.

Genital soreness, itching, or burning could point to an underlying infection or other condition. When it comes to consistency, semen that’s thicker than usual could be a sign of dehydration.

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

If your semen changes significantly in color, consistency, amount, or smell, consult a healthcare professional. Likewise, if your ejaculate is accompanied by an itch or pelvic pain, it’s time to consult a clinician.