What Does Semen Smell Like? The Truth

High school didn't tell you this.

what does semen smell like getty

What does semen smell like? Well, here's a story for you. Back when I was in high school, my biology teacher decided to perform an experiment involving a vial of milky, creamy white fluid. The vial was pretty small, and was proudly displayed in a beaker in the middle of his desk.

“We’re going to perform an experiment today. Kids, I want you to smell the fluid in this vial and tell me if you can identify it,” he said. “Somehow, I have a feeling girls will recognize this smell more than guys will.”


We all exchanged glances and started passing the vial around. Girls took a whiff. Two girls nodded. Guys took a whiff. Some guys nodded, others didn’t. The vial kept being passed around, and like my teacher surmised, mostly women noticed the smell.

RELATED: How To Make Semen Taste Better

I finally wafted the scent of the vial over to my nose. I immediately recognized the smell as yeast; baker’s yeast, to be precise. Eventually, the vial got passed around to every student in the class.

The teacher then asked one of the guys what he thought the vial was. The boy, a shy kid who very rarely spoke in class, looked pretty sheepish. He didn’t seem to want to answer.


“Come on, what do you think is in the vial?” asked the teacher.

“Well, it starts with an 'S' and ends with a 'perm,” he said, turning beet red.

Every single person who recognized the smell burst into laughter. He had no idea what yeast smelled like. Moreover, he had no idea what sperm smelled like, either!

To this day, I still find this episode in my life to be pretty shocking. It’s kind of telling if you think about it. I mean, guys produce sperm. How do they not not know what semen smells like? Then again, I started to think about the topic too. So, what does semen smell like?

It dawned on me that I wasn’t 100 percent sure what semen smelled like. Was it that chlorine-y smell I whiffed on my partner’s boxers? I didn’t really know. So, I decided to research the answer to find out what I was really sniffing.


1. Most men’s semen will have a somewhat bleach-y, chlorine-y smell to it.

Semen is only 1 percent sperm. The rest of the stuff that comes out of men during orgasm is a collection of sugars, proteins, enzymes, and fluid. Unlike most other body fluids, semen isn’t acidic in nature. Most of the compounds found in sperms are basic, which means they have a pH above 7.

The smell that you experience is what the combination of compounds smell like. Sperm that smells like bleach or chlorine is healthy, normal sperm. You might have noticed this chlorine-like smell after sex with your lover. Semen smells bleachy because it has ammonia in it, so this is pretty commonplace.

RELATED: The Truth Behind Why Some Guy's Semen Just... Doesn't Taste Good

2. That being said, there is a chance that you might smell something a bit more foul.



Once in a while, some men will end up having sperm that doesn’t smell “fresh” after they ejaculate. In some rare case, semen can smell like rotten fish or downright foul. This isn’t normal and can be caused by a wide variety of different things.

Sometimes, food can change the smell of semen to something that may smell a little more garlic-y or sour. Men who smoke or drink excessively might also experience a slightly bitter scent to their semen. Even then, it’s still relatively rare to have semen that has an outright pungent odor to it.

3. Once in a while, semen might smell foul when it mixes with vaginal fluids.

Did you ever have a partner who seemed to have sperm that just didn’t seem to mix well with your own body odor? It’s actually not that uncommon. Some semen reacts to vaginal fluid poorly, and shockingly, how semen reacts to a woman can vary from person to person.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s an issue with your partner’s sperm, nor does this mean that you have an issue with your body. It’s just a body quirk.


4. But you should know when to be worried.

A fishy or foul smell to semen isn’t normal, and it should be cause for concern. Should you notice a fishy smell to semen, you probably should call a doctor for a check up. In many cases, semen that smells fishy or rotten is one of the first signs of an infection or a serious disease.

Semen that isn’t white or clear that has a strange odor is definitely a sign of a serious infection. If you notice that your partner has a yellow, orange, pink, red, or brown semen color, you need to get him to a doctor as soon as possible. This can be a sign of a life-threatening illness and needs to be treated as soon as possible.


What happens if you just don’t like the smell of bleach? If you hate the smell of semen, you’re actually not alone. There are plenty of women and men out there who aren’t fans of the chlorine-like scent of man juice. Thankfully, there are ways to handle it. A quick wipe-down with a baby wipe will be enough to quash that scent.

That’s why there are some condom companies that create scented condoms for this particular reason. Royal Condoms, for example, are known for their odor-trapping scents. That being said, it really doesn’t take too much to overcome the weird smells of sex.

RELATED: 10 Shocking Health Benefits Of Semen

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a Jack-of-all-trades writer based out of Red Bank, New Jersey. When she's not writing, she's drinking red wine and chilling with some cool cats. You can follow her @bluntandwitty on Twitter.