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Understanding Semen colour

We might all be hoping for a white Christmas – but what about when it comes to your semen colour? Culturally (read: in porn and NSFW jokes) semen is generally depicted as being white, but the truth is, that’s not always the case.

Semen can come in a variety of colours – some are totally normal and healthy and others might be a sign you need to check in with your doctor – so we’ve created our very own colour chart to help you figure out what your semen sample is telling you. 

Semen colour table


Clear, white or grey semen colour 

Semen colour light grey Semen colour white

If your semen sample is white, clear or grey in colour – then good news! It’s all looking healthy. Semen can vary in colour but generally speaking if it’s on the white, creamy side of the spectrum then it’s a sign of good health. 

Your ejaculate is made up of a bunch of minerals, proteins, hormones, and enzymes and they all contribute to its colouring – and most of those are produced by your prostate gland.  

They include:

  • citric acid
  • acid phosphatase
  • calcium
  • sodium
  • zinc
  • potassium
  • protein-splitting enzymes
  • Fibrinolysin

And an imbalance of these can contribute to a less desirable sperm sample shade (but we’ll come on to that in a minute) 

If your sperm sample is grey, white or clear then it looks like everything is in working order. That said, it’s important to remember that just because your semen is a healthy colour, it doesn’t always mean that the sperm it contains are healthy. The only way to know what’s going on with your swimmers is to check it out under a microscope – but luckily we’ve made that easier than ever with our at-home sperm test. 


“Men should contact their doctor for a check up if their semen is any other color than the usual white-grayish they are used to. If other symptoms like fever, pain when ejaculation or smelly semen, it is extra important to consult a doctor”

Dr Fatin Willendrup, Head of Medical Affairs at ExSeed Health


Yellow or green semen colour 

Semen cup colour yellow Semen cup colour green

Just like yellow snow isn’t what you want to see, yellow or green semen could be a sign that something is not quite right. 

One of the causes of this colour change could be that there are traces of urine in your semen. Usually, this happens if you are having sex (or getting personal with a testing cup) shortly after peeing – so it’s not something to panic about. 

It could also be down to excessive drinking or even eating certain foods that are high in sulfur – like onions and garlic. So, if you’ve given a sample after a boozy curry night – that could explain things. 

However, if it happens regularly, it could be a sign of a UTI (urinary tract infection) or an infection of your prostate – both of which would likely show other symptoms, like pain when peeing, ejaculating or general pain in your abdomen.  If that’s the case, definitely go and speak to your doctor and they’ll be able to help you. 

Yellow semen could also be a sign of Leukocytospermia – not comfortable to say, and not comfortable to live with. Leukocytospermia is basically when you have too many white blood cells (leukocytes)  in your semen, which can tint your semen yellow. 

Again, an infected prostate could be the cause here, but it could also be done to an undetected STI, like chlamydia. If you suspect Leukocytospermia could be the culprit of your semen’s colour change, speak to your doc ASAP and get yourself booked in for an STI test – as untreated sexually transmitted infections can cause infertility down the line. 


Pink, red or brown semen colour  

Semen cup colour pink Semen cup colour red

If there is a pink, brown or red tinge to your semen, it’s probably a sign that some blood has made its way in there. This can be scary but don’t panic – there could be a simple explanation. 

If you’ve recently had surgery or a biopsy on your prostate, there could be some residual blood that has snuck into your semen – but this should resolve itself as you heal. Another cause could be a particularly vigorous sex session (or masturbation if you’re riding solo) – especially if you haven’t ejaculated in a while.  Again, this shouldn’t be a cause for concern (although it might be a sign you need to be coming more often!)

 Our old sexually transmitted mates, also make their way onto this part of the colour spectrum. STDs like herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhoea can cause blood to appear in your semen – along with a bunch of other not nice symptoms. As a general rule, if things aren’t looking right with your semen colour, go and get a quick STI test just in case.  

In very rare cases, blood in your semen can be a sign of testicular, prostate or urethral cancers. Obviously, that’s not something you want to think about – but it’s always better to investigate than bury your head in the sand. If you’re experiencing regular blood in your semen and notice other symptoms like pain in your balls, bum or abdomen then get on to your doctor straight away,  


Brown or Black semen colour 

Semen cup colour brown Semen cup colour black

Now, this is incredibly rare – and we appreciate no one wants to see black stuff coming out of their penis – but if this happens it’s usually down to old blood that has got into your urethra. If this is the case then take the same advice as we laid out above – and be aware of other symptoms you could be experiencing. 

The other thing that could be causing this semen colour phenomenon is a spinal cord injury.   Doctors are unsure exactly why this can happen but think that it may have something to do with a seminal vesicle malfunction – as these are some of the glands responsible for semen production. If you’ve experienced a recent spinal cord injury, you’re likely already in regular contact with your doctor  – so it might be worth mentioning this to them.   

The topline is that if you are at all concerned about the colour of your semen, check in with our doctor immediately. Men so often put these things off but getting medical advice will either put your mind at ease or get you the support you need faster – so it’s a win/win either way.

And remember – the colour of your semen doesn’t necessarily tell you what’s going on with your fertility. If you’re concerned it’s taking longer than you would like to get pregnant – or you’re just curious about how your swimmers are doing – check out our at home sperm tests. 

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More to explore


Wearing tight pants and underwear

Studies show that men who wear looser underwear have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear. So, lose the tight clothes and wear something loose to give your testicles some air.

CONCLUSION: learn more about how heat can affect sperm quality here.


Besides higher mortality rate and various diseases, stress is associated with low sperm quality. Stress is known to be associated with lower testosterone levels and oxidative stress with both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

CONCLUSION: If you feel stressed, we recommend you get some help so you can have a balanced mental health. For a stress management guide, download the ExSeed app for free and start your personalized action plan today.

Physical activity

Scientific studies show that men who are physically active have better semen parameters than men who are inactive. Fertility specialists also state that regular physical activity has beneficial impact on sperm fertility parameters and such a lifestyle can enhance the fertility status of men.

Prioritizing exercise can help improve your overall health and result in healthy, fast swimming sperm cells that have good chances of fertilizing an egg.

CONCLUSION: Try incorporating exercise in your weekly schedule to you ensure exercising at least twice weekly. We recommend a combination of cardio training and strength exercise. Read more about exercise and male fertility on our blog.


Fast Food
Processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells and cause oxidative stress, which lead to poorer sperm quality. Heavy consumption of junk food (every week) can increase the likelihood of infertility since men who consume vast amounts of unhealthy food are at risk of having poor sperm quality. Besides harming your fertility, junk food enlarges your waistline, harms your cardiovascular system, kidneys, and more.

Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase your sperm concentration and motility. It’s important that you consume a healthy diet filled with antioxidants and that you eat vegetables every day. Foods such as apricots and red bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which improves male fertility by nurturing healthier sperm. Men who are deficient in this vitamin tend to have slow and sluggish sperm.

Sugary snacks/beverages: several times a week Excessive consumption of high sugar items can lead to oxidative stress, which negatively impacts testosterone levels and sperm motility. Sugary snacks and beverages are also highly associated with obesity and low fertility.
CONCLUSION: To boost sperm quality, stay away from fast food, processed food, and sugary snacks or beverages. You need to implement a healthy prudent diet filled with necessary superfoods needed for good sperm production. Check out our guide to Male Fertility Superfoods. For personalized guidance and support on how you can start improving your sperm health, check out the Bootcamp.


Direct heat can inhibit optimal sperm production and cause Sperm DNA damage. Sperm cells like environments that are a couple of degrees lower than body temperature. Avoid overheating from warm blankets, seat warmers, heat from your laptop, hot showers, and saunas.

Cigarette smoking

The exposure to tobacco smoke has significant negative effects on semen quality. The damage of cigarettes and nicotine of course depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day and for how long, but even low usage (up to 10 cigarettes / day) can inhibit healthy sperm production.  

CONCLUSION: Stay as far away from cigarette smoking as possible if you care about your general health and your fertility. Read more here.

Cell phone

When you have your cell phone in your front pocket, your testicles are exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which studies have shown to damage the sperm cells. Put your phone in the back pocket of your pants or in your jacket pocket.


There is a clear association between obesity and reduced sperm quality. At least part of the reason for this is that obese men may have abnormal reproductive hormonal profiles, which can impair sperm production and lead to infertility. 

A BMI higher than 30 can lead to several processes in the body (overheating, increase in oxidative stress in the testes, sperm DNA damage, erectile dysfunction) that can have a negative impact on male fertility. This can result in problems when trying to conceive.  

CONCLUSION: BMI is one of the risk factors that influence semen quality and, for example, sperm motility.  


A beer or glass of wine now and then do not really harm sperm quality. But excess alcohol drinking (more than 20 units per week) can reduce the production of normally formed sperm needed for a successful pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: If you want to stay safe, stay under 14 units of alcohol per week. For more information on how alcohol can affect male fertility, take a look at our blog: “Alcohol and Sperm Quality”.


Studies show that women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of getting pregnant. Men can produce sperm cells almost through their entire life, but the sperm cell DNA is more fragile and prone to damage after the age of 40.

As men age, their testes tend to get smaller and softer resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone level, which plays a very important role in sperm

production. Higher male age (>40 years) is not only associated with a decline in sperm production but also with increased sperm DNA fragmentation and worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). These negative effects make the sperm cells less qualified for egg fertilization.

CONCLUSION: with an age under 40, you shouldn’t have to worry much about age as a factor in itself. However, studies have shown a slow decline after the age of 30-35 years

and if you are above 40 years of age, your sperm quality can be affected due to increased sperm DNA damage resulting in a decrease of sperm motility and concentration. Remember that you cannot evaluate the quality of a sperm sample by just looking at it – this requires a sperm analysis.