Posts Tagged ‘blood’

Bloody Semen: Frightening, But Usually Not To Worry

September 2, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  9/2/17

Hematospermia is medical speak for a bloody ejaculation. It is a not uncommon occurrence, usually resulting from inflammation of one of the male reproductive parts, typically the prostate or seminal vesicles.  As scary as it is, it is rarely indicative of a serious underlying disorder.  Like a nosebleed, it can be due simply to a ruptured blood vessel. It is almost always benign and self-limited,  typically resolving within several weeks. On occasion it may become recurrent or chronic, causing concern and anxiety, but again, rarely due to a serious problem.

Factoid: The most common cause of a bloody ejaculation is following a prostate biopsy.



Thank you, Wikipedia, for image above, public domain

What is semen?

Semen is a nutrient vehicle for sperm that is a concoction of secretions from the testes, epididymis, urethral glands, prostate gland, and seminal vesicles.  The clear secretions from the urethral glands account for a tiny component, the milky white prostate gland secretions for a small amount of the fluid, and the viscous secretions from the seminal vesicles for the bulk of the semen. Sperm makes up only a minimal contribution.

Factoid:  After vasectomy the semen appears no different since sperm make up a negligible portion of the total seminal volume.

What exactly occurs during ejaculation?

After a sufficient level of sexual stimulation is achieved (the “ejaculatory threshold”), secretions from the prostate gland, seminal vesicles, epididymis, and vas deferens are deposited into the part of the urethra within the prostate gland.  Shortly thereafter, the bladder neck pinches closed while the prostate and seminal vesicles contract and the pelvic floor muscles spasm rhythmically, sending wave-like contractions rippling down the urethra to propel the semen out.

Factoid:  Ejaculation is an event that takes place in the penis; orgasm occurs in the brain.

Factoid: It is the pelvic floor muscles that are the muscle power behind ejaculation.  Remember this: strong pelvic muscles = strong ejaculation.

Since the prostate and seminal vesicles contribute most of the volume of the semen, bleeding, inflammation or other pathology of these organs is usually responsible for bloody ejaculations. The bleeding may cause blood in the initial, middle, or terminal portions of the ejaculate.  Typically, blood arising from the prostate occurs in the initial portion, whereas blood arising from the seminal vesicles occurs later. The color of the semen can vary from bright red, indicative of recent or active bleeding, to a rust or brown color, indicative of old bleeding.

What are some of the causes of blood in the semen?

  • Infection or inflammation (urethritis, epididymitis, orchitis, prostatitis, seminal vesiculitis, etc.)
  • Ruptured blood vessel, often from intense sexual activity
  • Reproductive organ cysts or stones
  • Following prostate biopsy (from numerous needle punctures); following vasectomy
  • Pelvic trauma
  • Rarely malignancy, most commonly prostate cancer and less commonly, urethral cancer
  • Coagulation issues or use of blood thinners

 How is hematospermia evaluated and treated?

A brief history reveals how long the problem has been ongoing, the number of episodes, the appearance of the semen and the presence of any inciting factors and associated urinary or sexual symptoms. Physical examination involves examination of the genitals and a digital rectal examination to check the size and consistency of the prostate. Laboratory evaluation is a urinalysis to check for urinary infection and blood in the urine, and a PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test.  At times a urine culture and/or semen culture needs to be done.

Hematospermia is typically managed with a course of oral antibiotics because of the infection/inflammation that is often the underlying cause.  In most cases, the situation resolves rapidly.

If the bloody ejaculations continue, further workup is required.  This may involve imaging with either trans-rectal ultrasonography (TRUS) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and at times, cystoscopy. TRUS is an office procedure in which the prostate and seminal vesicles are imaged by placing an ultrasound probe in the rectum. MRI imaging is performed at an imaging center under the supervision of a radiologist. The MRI provides a more thorough diagnostic evaluation, but is more expensive and time consuming.  Both TRUS and MRI can show dilated seminal vesicles, cysts of the ejaculatory ducts, prostate or other reproductive organs, and ejaculatory or seminal vesicle stones.  MRI can also show sites suspicious for prostate cancer. Cystoscopy is a visual inspection of the inner lining of the urethra, prostate and bladder with a small-caliber, flexible instrument. Treatment is based on the findings of the imaging and diagnostic studies, but again, it is important to emphasize the typical benign and self-limited nature of hematospermia.

Bottom Line: Blood in the ejaculation is not uncommon and is frightening, but is usually benign and self-limited and easily treated. In the rare situation where it persists, it can be thoroughly evaluated to assess the underlying cause.  If you experience hematospermia, visit your friendly urologist to have it checked out.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

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Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

Author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health 

The aforementioned books will teach men and women, respectively, how to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles.


Liquid Gold

February 23, 2013

Liquid Gold

Andrew Siegel, MD  Blog # 95


Urine is as valuable as gold is—at least when it comes to its potential for revealing our underlying health or infirmity.  Our kidneys work 24/7/365 filtering and removing from our bloodstream toxic wastes.  These include nitrogen-rich soluble products generated from cellular metabolism, numerous other organic and inorganic chemicals, salts and metabolites, as well as excessive water.  Urine—the end product appearing in our bladders—can provide amazing insight into our overall health.

With every pulsation of our heart, arterial blood flows into the kidney via the renal arteries; after the blood is filtered, the cleansed blood is returned via the renal veins.  In essence, the artery brings “dirty” blood to the kidneys for filtering, with the renal veins providing transport back of cleansed blood. Urine is a sterile by-product of this filtering process.  For this reason, when operating on the urinary tract (for example when the bladder is opened and urine enters the abdominal cavity), it is of no concern from an infectious point of view.

Using a simple and inexpensive dipstick, in a matter of moments, diabetes, kidney disease, urinary tract infection and the presence of blood in the urine can be diagnosed.  Although there are many benign causes of blood in the urine, the worrisome possibilities are kidney and bladder cancer.  The dipstick also reveals specific gravity, a test that can indicate dehydration, over-hydration, and other potential health issues. Not only can the dipstick disclose the presence of diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes), but it can also reveal a condition known as diabetes insipidus, in which the kidneys lose their ability to concentrate urine. As a result, massive amounts of dilute urine are produced, which can have dire consequences.  Urine testing can also reveal substance and performance-enhancing drug abuse. Who knew that a waste product could be so revealing?  Of all the waste products that humans produce, urine uniquely provides the best “tell” regarding our health.

Urine odor can provide information as well. A sweet smell is consistent with diabetes mellitus; a foul odor may indicate a urinary infection or the intake of certain foods such as asparagus.  Vitamin intake can also cause the urine to have an unpleasant odor. Vitamins B and C are water soluble and therefore not stored in the body.  Any excess above what is necessary for the body’s use is immediately excreted in the urine.  Malodorous urine that has a feculent scent may indicate an abnormal connection between the colon and the bladder that is known as a colo-vesical fistula. This happens most commonly on the basis of diverticular disease of the colon.  When it occurs, there is often air in the urine, designated by the term pneumaturia.

Color is a “tell” with respect to hydration status.  When well hydrated, our urine will look clear or very pale yellow, like a light American beer.  When dehydrated, our urine becomes very concentrated, appearing dark amber, like a strong German beer.  Excessive B vitamins can result in light orange urine. Red urine is most often blood in the urine, which may indicate a potentially serious underlying condition, although overconsumption of beets, blackberries, and rhubarb may sometimes impart a red color to urine.  “Iced tea” or “cola” colored urine is often indicative of old blood, as opposed to the bright red color of urine indicative of fresh and active bleeding. Dark brown urine may indicate jaundice.  Pyridium, prescribed for the discomfort of urinary infections, turns the urine a neon orange color.  Other urinary analgesics that contain methylene blue can turn the urine blue or green.  Cloudy urine may be indicative of a urinary tract infection, but can also occur when phosphate salts crystallize in the urine on the basis of dietary intake of foods high in phophates.

When our urine is occasionally foamy or sudsy, it is considered to be normal. When it occurs consistently, it can be a sign of protein in the urine, indicative of kidney disease.

Bottom Line:  Urine is an invaluable waste product and offers many clues as to our overall health or presence of illness.


What a dipstick can reveal:

specific gravity…status of our hydration

pH…acidity of urine

leukocytes…urinary infection

blood…many urological disorders including kidney and bladder cancer

nitrite…urinary infection

ketones…in the absence of carbohydrate intake, fat is used as fuel and ketones are by-products of fat metabolism; may also indicate a very serious condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis

bilirubin…a yellow pigment found in bile, a substance made by the liver; its presence may be indicative of jaundice

urobilinogen…a byproduct of bilirubin breakdown formed in the intestines by bacteria—when elevated may indicate: impaired liver function; hepatitis; cirrhosis; excessive breakdown of red blood cells—when low may indicate bile obstruction or failure of bile production

protein…kidney disease



Andrew Siegel, M.D.

Author of Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food:

Available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle edition

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