What Your Semen Says About Your Health

Everything You Never Knew About Your Ejaculate

Couple
Couple. Carlo Allegri / Staff / Getty Images

Semen is the cloudy white bodily fluid that is emitted from the urethra and out of the penis during ejaculation. Most of the fluid in semen is made up of secretions from male reproductive organs:

  • 65 percent of the fluid is produced by the seminal vesicles
  • 30 to 35 percent is produced by the prostate
  • 5 percent comes from the testicles and epididymis

Semen contains citric acid, free amino acids, fructose, enzymes, phosphorylcholine, prostaglandin, potassium, and zinc.

The average volume of semen produced in a single ejaculation varies from 2 to 5 ml. The semen from a single ejaculation may contain between 40 million and 600 million sperm, depending both upon the volume of the ejaculate and the length of time since the last ejaculation.

So how can you know your semen is in tip-top shape, and what might be the tip-off that something is wrong?

Normal Semen

The Look: Semen is usually a cloudy white or grey fluid. Following ejaculation, semen may thicken to a jelly-like consistency. Within 30 minutes, it typically becomes runny and clear. The thickening and liquefaction are thought to be important to reproduction.

The Smell: A chlorine smell in semen is normal.

The Taste: Slightly sweet due to a high content of fructose. The taste of semen tends to change slightly from person to person and may be affected by diet.

Red or Brown Semen

If your semen has a red or brown appearance, it is probably due to a burst blood vessel in the prostate.

This can happen with normal ejaculation and, within a day or two, the semen should return to its normal color. If the discoloration continues for longer than a few days, you should see your doctor. Persistent blood in the semen may result from infection, trauma and, rarely, cancer.

Yellow or Green Semen

Normal semen may have an off-white or slightly yellow tint.

Semen with a pronounced yellow or green color may indicate infections, possibly due to a sexually transmitted infection (STI) called gonorrhea. Go to your local clinic for diagnosis and treatment. If your semen is discolored due to a gonorrhea infection, treatment with antibiotics will be necessary.

Foul-Smelling Semen

Foul-smelling semen is nearly always a sign of infection. Go and see your doctor.

Further Reading

Everything You Need To Know About Ejaculation. What occurs during ejaculation, your chances of having multiple orgasms, and how important your semen is to your fertility.

Healthy Sperm. A healthy male discharges 50 million sperm in a single ejaculation. During sexual intercourse, of all those millions of sperm, only a couple hundred will make it to a mature egg that is ready to be fertilized. How can you boost your chances of having sperm that goes the distance?

Do You Really Need to Have a Semen Analysis? Your wife's diagnosed fertility problem doesn't give you a clean bill of health.

In fact, up to one-third of infertile couples discover fertility problems in both partners.

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