What Are the Common Causes of Brown Semen?

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  • Originally Written By: Jae Jones
  • Revised By: A. Pasbjerg
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2018
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There are several common causes of brown semen, most of them relatively benign. Most of the time, it's caused by blood in the semen, particularly older blood that's been in the testicular area for some time. This is often caused by trauma to the testicles, but can be due to other conditions, including infections. Certain dietary habits can also cause discolored semen. Rarely, brown semen is indicative of a more significant issue, like testicular cancer.


Having blood in the semen, also known as hematospermia or hemospermia, is one of the most common causes of brown semen. It's most often the result of trauma to the testicles or prostate, but can also happen because of a medical condition. Activities that put pressure on the testicles, such as bicycle or horseback riding may cause trauma, as can strenuous sexual activity, straining to ejaculate, or injuries. It can also be the result of medical procedures such as a vasectomy or prostate biopsy.

As long as there's no other apparent injury or intense pain, hematospermia is usually not serious, and often clears up on its own in a few days. To help relieve pain and promote healing, a man should use ice, anti-inflammatory medications, or painkillers as appropriate. He should also avoid strenuous activity, and see a healthcare professional if the discoloration remains after a week or two.

Infections and Medical Conditions

Infections of the prostate, urethra, or seminal vesicles sometimes cause hematospermia. A number of bacterial infections, including sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like chlamydia or gonorrhea can have this effect. Men who have these infections might also notice a foul odor with the discharge. Besides infections, obstructions of any of the reproductive ducts can cause bleeding, as can conditions like an enlarged prostate gland, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), leukemia, and hypertension.

Men who think they might have an infection should see a healthcare professional, since they likely will need an antibiotic. They should not have sex until they're totally well to avoid passing on the infection to a partner. Those who think they may have brown semen because of another underlying medical condition should also see a medical professional to get a clear diagnosis and rule out the possibility of other health problems. This is particularly important for older men, since they are more prone to prostate problems.


Another factor may affect the color of semen is diet. Some men who eat a high protein diet, such as that for bodybuilding, for a long time get brown streaks in their semen. Taking very high levels of B vitamins can have a similar effect. Additionally, eating lots of spicy foods or consuming lots of caffeine or alcohol can irritate the prostate gland, which can lead to bleeding. In most cases, changing the diet resolves the discoloration.


In rare cases, brown semen can be caused by tumors or polyps in the reproductive system. Sometimes the growths are benign, as in the case of benign prostatic hypertrophy, but in other instances, discolored semen can indicate cancer in the prostate, testicles, or bladder. Older men are most at risk for these types of tumors, as are those who are Caucasian and those who smoke or have an undescended testicle.

If a man is diagnosed with a growth, a medical professional will first do further tests to determine if it is cancerous. Sometimes, benign polyps or tumors can develop in the reproductive organs or ducts. In cases where the growths turn out to be cancerous, a man can discuss the best course of action, such as radiation or chemotherapy, with his healthcare provider.

Discuss this Article

Post 12

My husband noticed his semen is brownish in color. He will be 70 this year. Should he seek medical advice?

Post 11

I am 70 and noticed recently that my semen had turned brown. I recently had 'a stroke' (no 'pun intended) and am on various medications - could this be the cause? I have no pain of any kind, and I was fortunate that the effects of the stroke did not progress beyond my head. It was quite a shock as I have always kept very fit and have a healthy diet. However it would seem I have a naturally have high level of cholesterol which I was unaware of. Your comments would be much appreciated.

Post 10

I recently had a 30 day supply of Citalopram and it was impossible to ejaculate while I was taking it. I stopped taking it and although my ejaculation ability came back, the semen is dark and thick.

I plan to watch it for a couple of weeks and if it does not clear up. I will seek medical advice.

Post 9

I had an ejaculation of brown semen last night after masturbation. It was a bit of a strain because I am over 70. Reading the above comments suggests I am doing the right thing in contacting my specialist. It's probably nothing but it might be something.

Post 8

Mine was white all through high school. Somewhere in my twenties it slowly turned darker over a period of years. Somewhat like the brown color of a brown eggshell. It also became coagulated or lumpy. It has been like this for 15 years. Being slightly hypochondriac-ish, this website makes me think I should see a specialist.

Post 7

Taking aspirin daily may be a consideration as to the cause of dark semen. It has been determined that aspirin causes internal bleeding. If you have no heart problems, stop the aspirin and see if it clears up.

Post 6

I'm a paraplegic and have been getting brown semen ever since I started masturbating. My doctors have been useless. There is more information here than they have. I don't know what to do about it. I am wondering if it's because I intermittently catheterise myself.

Post 5

Thanks to this site, I have stopped worrying. I woke up with brown coloured semen. I was was scared, so I looked on here and it told me everything I needed to know.

Post 4

@indemnifyme - That's interesting about the B vitamins. I doubt the men with this problem are amused though!

Most men I know hate going to the doctor. In fact, I think the only thing that could get some men in to see a doctor is a problem in their um, sensitive area. It sounds like most of the causes of brown semen are luckily pretty harmless, but I think it's always a good idea to check with a doctor just in case.

Post 3

I think it's interesting that B vitamins cause brown semen, because they are also known to turn urine bright yellow! I imagine for a man it must be disconcerting to experience brown semen along with neon yellow colored urine.

I bet doctors see plenty of confused and panicked men every year that don't actually have anything wrong with them! That is really funny.

Post 2

I stopped getting brown semen after I drastically cut down the amount of protein I was eating. I was trying a low-carbohydrate diet and was eating way more meat than normally. After a few weeks of this

I noticed a strange discoloration in my semen. It freaked me out a bit, so it was reassuring to learn that it was just from too much of one kind of food.

My doctor got me off the low-carbohydrate diet and onto a more balanced meal plan and I am happy to report that things are back to normal. I guess it just goes to show that too much of a good thing can be bad for you.

Post 1

My son recently confessed that he had brown semen after a rough hit during a soccer game. He was quite worried that he had damaged himself forever or was dying. I took him to the doctor's office and all they did was give him some pain killers for the residual ache and told us not to worry about the discoloration in his semen.

Apparently when you bleed a bit, it discolors your semen, but generally goes away on its own if it is just from rough contact. They just told us to come back in a few days if it hadn't gone away or had gotten worse. I guess the problem fixed itself.

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