Our bodies frequently give us little clues regarding our health, and semen is no different. From the colour of our urine to the consistency of our stool, our bodies are constantly giving us information about what is going on inside.
The same is true for semen, and while the average person produces between 1.25 to 5 ml of semen per ejaculation, the colour can vary slightly from one person to the next due to diet, medications, and other factors.
So what is considered normal, and how can you tell if the colours of your semen is a cause for concern? Here’s a look at the most common colours of semen and what they might mean for your health.
Semen Volume: What is Considered Normal?
Let's look at what the normal, healthy qualities of ejaculate are before we get into colours. The median semen volume is 3.7 milliliters (ml), according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Most males fall between 1.5–6.8 ml for semen volume, meaning that anything outside of that range is considered abnormal. This range is actually around 1/4 to 1 teaspoon.
Hypospermia, or low semen volume, can be caused by a number of things, including dehydration, hormonal imbalances, infection, retrograde ejaculation, and certain medications. If you’re concerned about hypospermia, talk to your doctor.
On the other hand, hyperspermia is generally not something to be concerned about, and in fact, many men with hyperspermia never experience any negative effects. However, in some rare cases, hyperspermia can be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as diabetes, so it’s always best to speak with a doctor if you’re concerned.
How Far Your Semen Travels: What Does it Mean?
The distance your semen travels during ejaculation has little to do with your health, and more to do with the volume of semen produced. The average ejaculation can travel up to 28 miles per hour, but the distance semen travels depends on the volume produced. For example, a larger volume of semen will travel further than a smaller volume.
If you ejaculate a larger volume of semen, it often creates the illusion that it's traveling faster. In reality, however, the speed at which semen travels is relatively constant, it will just go farther if there is more, as is the case with any liquid. If you think of a squirt gun, for example, the larger the volume of water inside the chamber, the further the stream will travel when you pull the trigger.
The same is true for semen, and while the average person produces between 1.25 to 5 ml of semen per ejaculation, the colour can vary slightly from one person to the next due to diet, medications, and other factors. Let's take a look at what the colour of your semen might be telling you about your health.
What Are the Factors That Contribute to Variation in Volume and Force of Ejaculate?
Keep in mind that there are many factors that can contribute to variation in volume and force of ejaculate. These include, but are not limited to:
Hydration levels: Staying hydrated is key for overall health, and it can also help increase the volume and force of ejaculate due to the fact that seminal fluid is mostly composed of water.
Diet: Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can also help increase the volume and force of ejaculate by providing the body with the nutrients it needs to produce healthy semen.
Age: As men age, the volume and force of ejaculate may decrease due to a decline in testosterone levels. This is a normal part of aging and is nothing to be concerned about unless it is accompanied by other symptoms such as low libido or erectile dysfunction.
Lifestyle choices: Smoking, drinking alcohol, and using recreational drugs can all have a negative impact on the volume and force of ejaculate. These substances can damage the reproductive system and lead to a decrease in semen production.
Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and thyroid disorders, can also cause a decrease in the volume and force of ejaculate.
Medications: Some medications, such as certain antidepressants and antipsychotics, can also cause a decrease in the volume and force of ejaculate.
Semen Colour: Everything You Need To Know
Healthy semen is usually white or whitish gray in colour. If your semen changes colour, you may wonder if something is wrong with your health. In general, discolored semen is a cause for concern. However, it’s not always a sign of a serious problem. Let's look at what can cause changes in semen colour, when you should see a doctor, and what your treatment options may be.
What Can Cause Changes in Semen Colour?
There are many possible causes of changes in semen colour. Some are harmless, while others may be a sign of a health problem.
Possible causes of changes in semen colour include:
Infection: Infections of the reproductive organs can cause changes in semen colour. These include sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Inflammation: Prostatitis, an inflammation of the prostate gland, can cause changes in semen colour.
Diet: Certain foods can change the colour of your semen. For example, eating large amounts of carrots can make semen appear yellowish.
Medication: Some medications, such as the antibiotic rifampin, can change the colour of semen.
Dehydration: Dehydration can cause your semen to appear darker than usual.
Age: As men age, their seminal fluid may change colour.
Health conditions: Some health conditions can cause changes in semen colour. These include testicular cancer and cirrhosis of the liver.
Various Semen Colours: What Could They Mean?
No matter what the case is, if your semen isn’t white or whitish gray, you should make an appointment with your primary care doctor immediately.
Yellow semen is typically the result of a very high beta-carotene diet, such as from eating a lot of carrots, a prostate infection, or jaundice. Having yellow semen once in a while is generally nothing to worry about. However, if it happens frequently, you should see a doctor to rule out an infection.
Green semen is usually the result of a bacterial infection. It can also be caused by the medicine indomethacin, which is used to treat pain and inflammation. If you have green semen, you should see a doctor to be tested as soon as possible.
Orange semen is usually the result of a medication side effect, such as from the antibiotics amikacin or norfloxacin. It can also be caused by a food dye called tartrazine. If you have orange semen, you should talk to your doctor about whether your medication is the cause.
Pink or Red Semen
Pink or red semen is usually the result of blood in the semen, which is called hematospermia. It can be caused by an infection, an injury, or a tumor. If you have pink or red semen, you should see a doctor to find the cause as soon as possible.
Brown or Black Semen
Brown or black semen could be blood that has been in the semen for a while. It can also be caused by a medication side effect, such as from the antibiotic metronidazole. If you have brown or black semen, you should see a doctor to find the cause and rule out an infection, as blood in the semen can be a sign of cancer.
When Should I See a Doctor?
You should see a doctor if you have any changes in your semen colour that last more than a few days or if you have any other symptoms, such as pain, burning, or itching. You should also see a doctor if you have had unprotected sex or if you think you may have an STI.
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This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.