The appearance of a healthy urine is usually faint yellow and clear or free from any particles. However, some health conditions can cause white particles in the urine to give it a cloudy appearance.
Urinary tract infections and pregnancy are common causes of urinary changes, but many other conditions can cause similar symptoms.
Causes of Particles in Urine
Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
The appearance of white particles in urine can be caused by UTIs. This can occur when bacteria get into the urethra and make their way to the kidneys, bladder, or ureter, where they multiply and cause the infection. Viruses, parasites, or fungi entering the urinary tract may cause a UTI in rare cases.
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A UTI can cause discharge in both men and women and can lead to the appearance of white particles in the urine.
Other symptoms of urinary tract infections include:
- an urgent need to urinate
- pain in the abdomen or pelvis
- pain while urinating
- cloudy or discolored urine
- foul-smelling urine
- feveror chills
Bacterial UTIs usually require antibiotics. If left untreated, it may spread to other parts of the body and can cause complications.
It is normal for women to produce extra cervical mucus during ovulation. This mucus may have a milky or creamy texture and may resemble a stringy white substance in the urine. A woman may need to visit the doctor if the discharge has a foul odor or is colored.
Change in hormones occur during pregnancy. These hormonal changes can cause vaginal discharge which can mix with the urine as it leaves the body and appears as white particles in the urine. This is normal and is not a cause for concern.
However, a pregnant woman who has vaginal discharge that appears darker, associated with itching or burning sensation, should see a doctor, as it may be an infection.
A yeast infection may also cause white particles in the urine. The fungus Candida albicans is found naturally in healthy women but, in certain situations, it can multiply rapidly in the vagina and cause an infection. Yeast infections often cause a thick, chunky discharge that may resemble cottage cheese in appearance. This discharge can mix with the urine and lead to white bits appearing.
Yeast infection may cause other symptoms, such as:
- redness and swelling around the vagina
- itching or soreness
- pain during sex
- soreness or pain while urinating
Doctors often recommend prescription or over-the-counter antifungal treatments to treat yeast infections.
Bacterial vaginosis is inflammation in the vagina caused by an imbalance of bacteria. Symptoms may include a foul or fishy odor and a burning sensation while urinating. In some cases, a thin, grayish-white discharge may mix with the urine and cause appearance of white particles. Treatment for bacterial vaginosis varies but can include oral antibiotics or suppositories.
Some doctors also recommend taking probiotics after treatment to reintroduce beneficial bacteria to the vagina.
Kidney stones develop when the levels of certain substances such as uric acid or calcium oxalate in the body increases. The excess can accumulate in the urinary tract and may turn into kidney stones. The body may expel small kidney stones through the urine without a person even noticing. They may appear as small white particles.
Kidney stones may also cause significant pain in the abdomen and other symptoms, including:
- difficulty urinating
- urgent and frequent need to urinate
- burning and painful sensation during urination
- pain radiating through the lower abdomen, pelvis, and groin
- foul-smelling, cloudy, or bloody urine
Many kidney stones can be passed with the help of over-the-counter pain medications.
Doctors may also prescribe drugs called alpha-blockers that help break the stones into smaller pieces.
Prostatitis refers to inflammation of the prostate gland and can be caused by a bacterial infection near the gland. It can cause discharge from the urethra that mixes with urine. Men with prostatitis may have other symptoms like:
- painful ejaculation
- erectile dysfunction
- difficulty or pain urinating
- pain in the lower back
- chills or fever
- throbbing or pain in the testicles, perineum, or rectum
Most cases of bacterial prostatitis require antibiotics for treatment.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
STIs are passed on to others through vaginal, anal or oral sexual intercouse, and many of them can cause changes in the urine. Gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis are all STIs that may cause genital discharge in both men and women. This discharge may appear as white particles in the urine or make the urine itself appear white or cloudy.
Anyone who thinks they may have an STI should contact a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Symptoms may appear in different ways, including:
- stringy, cloudy substance in the urine
- white flakes in the urine
- grayish sediment floating in the urine
- murky or milky urine
When to see a doctor
Some cases like pregnancy and ovulation which causes the appearance of white particles in urine is considered normal and require no treatment. However, any additional symptoms, such as itching or pain, may require a medical intervention.