The discoloration in brown sperm or semen is caused by the presence of blood, a condition known as hematospermia. Brown sperm, in particular, is indicative of older blood, as fresh blood tends to add a bright red discoloration to semen. In most cases, a brownish hue in male ejaculate can be attributed to previous physical trauma and is often no cause for alarm. Several medical conditions can also cause blood in semen, however: prostatitis, epididymitis, and hemophilia are some of the more common causes. Other medical issues that can cause brown sperm include cancer and sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs).
Although the most common causes of hematospermia involve physical damage in or near a patient's genitals, a brown sperm color is usually created only when internal bleeding is slow to heal. Most cases of physical trauma result from overly-vigorous sexual intercourse and direct blows to the groin. The shock from intercourse after a long period of abstinence might cause bleeding in some individuals. Patients will also experience hematospermia after passing or having kidney or bladder stones removed. It is also common for patients to note blood in their seminal fluid.
An inflammation of the prostate gland can cause blood vessels to rupture, leaking blood into the sperm. Patients suffering from prostatitis, or inflammation stemming from an infection, might experience brown sperm. Prostate cancer can cause similar symptoms, especially if the tumor ruptures. Epididymitis, an inflammation of the epididymis, can discolor semen in a similar fashion.
Sexually-transmitted diseases like herpes can cause ulceration in the genital area, creating open sores that might bleed with adequate agitation. STDs can also render the tissue in affected areas abnormally tender, making them more prone to damage and eventual bleeding. In addition, some STDs like gonorrhea make patients more prone to developing other causes of brown sperm, such as epididymitis.
Sperm will eventually return to its natural coloration when the underlying cause is corrected. In the case of physical trauma, the best remedy is to allow the affected area to heal completely by letting it rest. Patients should abstain from rough sexual contact as much as possible during this period. Infections and STDs, on the other hand, can usually be treated with antibiotic medication; drastic cases, however, might require surgical intervention. Cancer can be treated with several forms of non-surgical therapy, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, before patients have to resort to surgical removal of cancerous tissue.