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What Are the Common Causes of Dark Semen?

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  • Written By: T. Broderick
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 15 March 2014
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Having dark semen is a sign of blood mixing in with the semen. This condition is known as hematospermia. It has many possible causes, including urethral stricture and a prostate infection. In the majority of men, the cause is unknown and the condition clears on its own without explanation. Diagnosing the cause of dark semen requires a physical examination and medical tests performed by a urologist.

Dark semen, whether light tinges of color in otherwise healthy looking semen or semen that has undergone a complete color change, is due to hematospermia. Due to bleeding within the urinary or reproductive tracts, red blood cells are expelled through the urethra. Darker blood indicates that the blood originated from the testes or prostate, while lighter blood suggests a cut somewhere along the urethra. Many medical conditions can cause hematospermia and thus dark semen.

Physical trauma to the urethra can cause urethral stricture and dark semen. Vigorous sexual activity or accidental injury creates micro tears along the urethra, causing bleeding. Changes in semen color along with possible painful ejaculation appear shortly after this trauma. Though the cuts soon clot, the urethra becomes slightly narrower at the place where the bleeding occurred. The pressure of future ejaculation on this narrow area(s) can reopen wounds, leading to more bleeding.

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Inflammation of the prostate can cause bleeding similar to that of a urethra stricture. In this case, infection or an undiagnosable reason causes minute bleeding. Blood originating from the prostate tends to make semen darker than blood from the urethra. This difference is due to how prostate blood, once released, has longer to oxidize before leaving the body. Like with urethra stricture, the severity of the cuts influence the degree to which semen color is affected.

For most men, dark semen is idiopathic, meaning the cause is unknown and/or undiagnosable. It occurs only once for no discernible reason and quickly disappears. If an individual should go to see a urologist, the urologist finds nothing wrong.

Even if dark semen is idiopathic, a man with this condition should consult a urologist to try to diagnose the underlying cause of hematospermia. After a general physical, a number of tests may be necessary to locate the point of bleeding. These tests can include prostate exam, ultrasound and/or inserting a fiber optic camera through the urethra. The latter is especially useful in diagnosing urethral strictures. Even if it is impossible to explain or stop episodes of bleeding, the patient will be able to understand how bleeding affects his overall health and reproductive capability.

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Discuss this Article

anon322690
Post 4

I hope the doctors listen. All I got was a year of runaround everywhere I went, from "that's not likely" to you're fine and normal, to it's in your head. They all charged a lot. I am sure mine is an infection and advanced but even after months of antibiotics once I found help, nothing works better than an alkaline/ vegetable diet. Everything heals better.

stoneMason
Post 3

@fBoyle-- I'm no expert so I have no idea if you need to see a doctor or not. But I'd advise you to stay away from sexual activity for a while, rest and watch for any additional symptoms like pain. If things aren't getting better in a few days, you should definitely get checked out.

I don't how old you are and I surely don't want to scare you. But my brother was diagnosed with prostate cancer recently and dark, bloody semen was one of the symptoms he had before his diagnosis. He has also had it happen to him immediately after his biopsies.

I don't think you need to freak out just yet. But definitely keep a close eye on this and try to get yourself to a doctor if it doesn't resolve itself or if it happens often. I hope you get well soon!

discographer
Post 2

@fBoyle-- Yes, when my husband had a penile fracture, he also had dark semen for a while. It was pretty serious and he did have to be operated on.

The cause was easy to figure out in his case because he had other symptoms like penile dysfunction and pain when aroused. He was seen by his doctor and diagnosed with penile fracture. We didn't even know that it was possible to fracture a penis until then. Because of the fracture, he had tears in his urethra and that's where the blood was coming from.

After a month, during which his fracture healed, the semen went back to its regular color. It probably went back to normal earlier but he didn't know because masturbation and intercourse is not allowed during penile fracture treatment.

fBoyle
Post 1

I'm facing this problem right now and I don't know what to do. Should I go to the doctor immediately or should I wait a few days to see if my semen will go back to normal?

I haven't had any physical accident that would cause my semen to turn dark. But I have been sexually active a lot lately so that's probably the cause. If it's going to get better by itself, then I'd rather wait because I don't have health insurance right now.

Has anyone experienced dark semen where the cause was really serious, more so than a minor trauma or over-exertion?

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