SEMEN

WHAT YOUR SEMEN SAYS ABOUT YOUR HEALTH

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I’ve seen lots of articles about vaginal health, vaginal discharge, and vaginal odors but I don’t much about semen. It’s not like there is nothing to know or say about semen, so why? Anyway, it’s the reason why this blog exists. Both men and women (who sleep with men) should find this article useful because there is a whole lot you can deduce about a man’s health from the color, taste, smell, texture, consistency, and quantity of semen released when a man ejaculates. 

So many men do not know the taste of their semen. They don’t know what it should like, the smell and consistency of healthy semen. Isn’t that bad?

If you are a woman, you wouldn’t want to swallow the semen of a man who has an STI. What if you catch it? How about if your man has a health issue he doesn’t know about? This post can help you understand what it means when you notice anything odd about your semen or your partner’s semen and if there is a need for him to seek medical attention; he can do it as early as possible to prevent future health problems. 

DID YOU KNOW THAT?

One-third of the time, when a couple has fertility issues, the man is the problem. The consistency and texture of semen tell a lot about how fertile a man is but because of ignorance, people aren’t able to tell.

WHAT EXACTLY IS SEMEN?

Semen is the fluid that is released when a man ejaculates and it isn’t the same as sperm, although it contains sperms. You will be surprised to know that it contains only 1 to 5% of sperms (which can be between 40million to 1.2 billion sperms). The remaining 99-95% is a mixture of chemical compounds that influence its color, taste, and smell. 

  • What are the other components of semen? 

Water, proteins (amino acids), vitamin C, minerals (zinc, selenium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium), enzymes and sugar (fructose)

HOW MUCH SEMEN IS RELEASED DURING EJACULATION?

On average, more than half a teaspoon (3.7ml) of semen is released during ejaculation. It could be more or less [between 1.5 ml and 7 ml] depending on the last time you ejaculated and how hydrated you are.  

  • When Semen Released Is Too Small

If a man releases too little semen during ejaculation (less than 1.5ml), it could be a sign of infertility or prostate cancer. 

  • Causes: Diabetes, Obesity, High soy diet, High estrogen levels, and Aging. 

THE COLOR OF SEMEN

The normal/healthy color of semen can be described as off-white, cloudy-white, milky-white, slightly greyish, or greyish-white. If the color of semen looks different than what’s been mentioned, it could mean so many things.

THE SEMEN COLOR CHART

  • What it means when semen has any of these colors: (from healthline.com)

YELLOW

GREEN

PINK

RED

ORANGE

BROWN

BLACK

Prostatitis

Prostatitis

Prostatitis

Prostatitis

Prostatitis

Prostatitis

Heavy metals

Diet

Diet

Prostate biopsy or surgery

Prostate biopsy or surgery

Prostate biopsy or surgery

Prostate biopsy or surgery

Spinal cord injuries

Jaundice

STI

Prostate, testicular, or urethral cancer

Prostate, testicular, or urethral cancer

Prostate, testicular, or urethral cancer

Prostate, testicular, or urethral cancer

 

STI

 

STI

STI

STI

STI

 

Leukocytospermia

 

High blood pressure

High blood pressure

Heavy metals

Heavy metals

 

Substance abuse

 

Vigorous sex or masturbation

Vigorous sex or masturbation

 

Spinal cord injuries

 

Urine in semen

 

 

 

 

 

 

             

YELLOW SEMEN

Semen shouldn’t have a yellow or green color. Once you notice that, you need to have in mind that there could be many underlying causes (as indicated in the chart)

  • Urine in Semen

This could happen if you had to pee shortly before ejaculation, so some leftover urine remains in the urethra and it is mixed with semen during ejaculation to make the semen look yellowish. Although this might not be a cause for worry, in some cases, there could be a health issue causing it. It could a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), an enlarged prostate, or an infection of the prostate (prostasis). 

  • Jaundice

Jaundice usually comes along with the yellowing of skin and sclera (white part of the eye), chills, fever and abdominal pain.

  • STIs

Yellow, green, or yellowish-green semen is also a sign of gonorrhea and chlamydia.

PINK, RED, ORANGE AND BROWN SEMEN

These colors are usually a sign of blood in the semen. Red and pink semen is indicative of fresh blood in the semen whereas orange and brown indicate older blood in semen that has been exposed to oxygen. It could be caused by the bursting of a blood vessel and sometimes it isn’t a cause for alarm. In that case, in a day or two, the color goes back to normal (off-white).

If not, it could have any of these underlying causes:

  • Prostate Biopsy/Surgery

If you undergo prostate surgery and you notice blood in your urine, you don’t have a reason to worry. It usually involves cutting of tissues that can cause blood to leak into your semen

  • Vigorous Sex/Masturbation

Excessive/frequent ejaculation and edging can cause semen to be bloody. 

  • High Blood Pressure

Having high blood pressure can cause leakage of blood into semen and it is accompanied by other symptoms like shortness of breath, bloody nose, and headaches.

  • STIs, Prostatitis & Prostate, Testicular Or Urethral Cancers

These usually come along with painful ejaculation, painful urination, tender or swollen scrotum, tenderness in the groin area, pain in your lower back, unusual or colored discharge from the penis, blood in urine, and rashes in the genital area which can be itchy or painful.

BLACK SEMEN

Black semen can be caused by very old blood in semen, exposure to heavy metals, and /or spinal cord injuries. See a doctor when your semen turns black.

PROSTASIS

A change in color of semen from off-white to any of the colors above can be a sign of a prostate infection but it isn’t a standalone sign. It comes along with other symptoms that you need to see before you can be convinced that you have the infection.

Here are the other symptoms:

  • Difficult/painful urination
  • Having a constant urge to pee
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Pain in rectal area
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Chills

TASTE OF SEMEN

Normal, healthy semen should have a mild and inoffensive taste. Some people describe it as being slightly sweet and salty at the same time or metallic because of the zinc it contains. Also, when a man doesn’t ejaculate for a long time, the first semen that comes out can be very strong or concentrated, but after some time, it should go back to normal. 

Semen tasting too sweet might be a sign of diabetes (too much sugar secreted into the semen).

The taste of semen can also be subjective because each individual has taste receptors. If there is an issue with your taste receptors, things might taste differently than they’re supposed to and semen will have an odd taste.

HEALTH ISSUES THAT CAN AFFECT THE TASTE RECEPTORS AND MAKE SEMEN TASTE ODD

  • Respiratory infections
  • Middle ear infections
  • Dental health problems
  • Infections in the mouth
  • Recent surgery in the mouth, nose or face
  • Head or spinal cord injuries
  • Medical treatments like radiation treatment for cancer and some antibiotics
  • Exposure to chemicals like pesticides

SMELL OF SEMEN

On a normal day, semen should smell like bleach, chlorine, or ammonia. It can also smell metallic because of high concentrations of zinc (needed for healthy sperm production).

It is important to note that many things can influence the smell and taste of semen. It could be diet, hygiene, sexual behavior, and whether the man is circumcised or not. It’s the reason why people say that a man should eat a lot of pineapples if he wants his semen to taste good. Also, when a man is uncircumcised, his semen could smell different because sweat, smegma, dead skin cells, skin oils, and bacteria under the foreskin can mix with it during ejaculation.

If semen smells odd because of diet or hygiene, the smell should go away after a day or two or it should go away after you take a shower and wash your penis. If the smell doesn’t go away and it persists after two days, it could be a sign of an STI.

FISHY SMELL, ROTTEN-EGG SMELL/VERY PUNGENT SMELL

These are usually caused by STIs (Trichomoniasis and Gonorrhea) or a prostate infection.

  • Trichomoniasis- accompanied by itching and burning in your genital area.
  • Gonorrhea- accompanied by burning during urination, swollen testicles, and penile discharge. 
  • Prostasis- accompanied by painful urination, cloudy or bloody urine, painful ejaculation, and a constant urge to pee.

TEXTURE AND CONSISTENCY OF SEMEN

Normal/healthy semen is thick and jelly-like but because of diet, alcohol consumption, and level of physical activity, it might not always be as thick as it should be. Also, right after ejaculation, it is pretty thick but after some time, it can become runny.

  • When semen is too thick

This can be a sign of dehydration, hormonal imbalance, or an infection.

  • When semen is watery

Watery semen is a sign of infertility (low sperm count) or it can be caused by frequent ejaculation in a small amount of time.

UNDERLYING CAUSES OF WATERY SEMEN (from International Society for Sexual Medicine)

  • Zinc deficiency
  • Smoking or use of recreational drugs
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Immune system problems
  • Undescended testicles
  • Tumors
  • Varicoceles (enlarged veins in the scrotum)
  • An infection
  • Retrograde ejaculation (when semen doesn’t come out of the penis during an orgasm, it goes into the bladder and comes out when you are urinating)
  • Radiation treatment 
  • Surgeries
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Obesity 
  • Medications

SEMEN AND YOUR DIET

I’m sure you know this already: what you eat affects the color, smell, and taste of your semen a great deal. Eating foods that contain yellow dyes, lots of sulfur, onions, and garlic can result in your semen looking yellowish. Drinking lots of alcohol and regular smoking of marijuana can also result in your semen looking yellowish.

Sweet-tasting food gives semen a sweet-tasting taste and smell, whereas sour-tasting food gives semen a sour-tasting taste and smell.

Foods for sweet-tasting semen (EAT MORE OF THESE):

  • Fruits like pineapples, oranges, papaya, grapefruit
  • Some vegetables like broccoli, celery, and wheatgrass
  • ‘Sweet’ spices like nutmeg and cinnamon

Foods that make semen sour/bitter:

  • Caffeine
  • Cabbage
  • Alcohol
  • Asparagus
  • Leaves like spinach
  • Meat 
  • Dairy products (milk)

HOW TO MAINTAIN GOOD HYGIENE FOR GOOD SEMEN HEALTH

  • Wear clean underwear 
  • Wash your penis regularly/take regular baths 
  • Clean the area underneath your foreskin regularly (if you are uncircumcised)

SWALLOWING SEMEN WHEN A MAN HAS AN INFECTION

Swallowing semen of a man who has gonorrhea and chlamydia can put you at risk of catching the infection in your throat. If you have a sore or cut in your throat, swallowing semen of a man who has HIV can put you at risk of catching it too!

Go for regular STI tests, know your partner’s status, use condoms, and when you notice something odd about your semen or your partner’s semen, let them know and don’t give raw head (use dental dams). Don’t swallow too! Make sure they find out the underlying cause and if they can start treatment, they do immediately. Also, if it’s not an infection, you can go ahead and swallow his semen anytime you give head. It’s as simple as that!

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Do you have a question or concern? Let me know in the comments or you can have a live chat with me using the red and white circle you see on your screen. Take care! 

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MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATE, WRITER, SEX AND RELATIONSHIP EXPERT

Ami Shikah is a sex educator and mental health advocate. She is passionate about sex education and is working towards making her website/blog a place where people come to for knowledge and information that will help them make healthy decisions about sex and sexuality. Mental health isn't treated with much importance in her part of the world (Ghana, Africa) and as someone who has had to deal with depression and suicidal thoughts, she hopes to share her experiences with the world and help other people like her. She has in-depth knowledge about sex, sexual health, sexuality, vaginal health, pregnancy and abortion and is working to share it all with the world. She has also made it possible for people to ask questions and get answers to them anytime.

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