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One of the earliest signs of pregnancy you might experience is frequent urination. You may even observe different colors and consistencies of your urine that you hadn’t necessarily noticed before. There are a number of reasons why your urine might look cloudy, including infection, dehydration, and other conditions, like preeclampsia.

Here’s what causes cloudy urine, other symptoms you might experience, and how your doctor may treat the root cause to keep you and baby safe.

Urine that appears cloudy may look that way due to excess white blood cells fighting infection, presence of blood in the urine, or the possibility that it has mixed with vaginal discharge.

Dehydration

When you’re dehydrated, your urine becomes darker and more concentrated — sometimes cloudy in appearance. There are several situations that may lead to dehydration during pregnancy, like vomiting from morning sickness or overheating.

Even without losing water from being sick, pregnant women require more water in general to support the placenta, amniotic fluid, and baby. In fact, experts recommend that pregnant women drink 10 cups of water each day to avoid dehydration during pregnancy.

Urinary tract infection

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria infecting the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra. It’s most common to see these infections in the lower urinary tract. Among other symptoms, your urine may look cloudy or even have blood in it.

During pregnancy, there’s a higher risk risk of UTIs turning into kidney infections. There is also a risk of premature birth and low birth weight for babies.

Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a condition that affects the liver and kidneys, and causes dangerously high blood pressure. It usually develops after week 20 in pregnancy.

This condition may not begin with any notable symptoms, yet it can be life-threatening for both mother and baby. That’s one reason why it’s so important to have your urine tested at prenatal appointments. The presence of protein may signal that preeclampsia is developing.

Along with having excess protein when tested, your urine may appear cloudy with this condition. You may also notice that your urine output decreases.

Other infections

Vaginal yeast infections are more common during pregnancy. They result in excess discharge that may make urine look cloudy. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), like chlamydia and gonorrhea, also produce discharge that may make urine appear cloudy. These infections may cause preterm labor.

Kidney stones

While rare, cloudy urine during pregnancy may also be a sign of kidney stones. A kidney stone is a piece of solid material that forms in the kidneys made of calcium, oxalate, and phosphorus.

You may be more at risk of developing stones if you are frequently dehydrated, have regular UTIs, or have some blockage of your urinary tract (which can be common during pregnancy).

To diagnose the cause of cloudy urine during pregnancy, your doctor will likely ask you to give a urine sample. The urine test done during your routine prenatal appointments isn’t necessarily detailed enough, so you may be asked to do what’s called a “clean catch.”

You’ll be given instructions on how to provide the sample so it does not get contaminated. For women, this means washing your hands thoroughly and using special wipes to clean the labia and urethra from front to back. After cleaning, you may pee a small amount into the toilet before catching your sample in the provided cup.

The results from your test may help identify different bacteria or other substances, like blood, present in your urine. You doctor will also take into account other symptoms you’re experiencing before ordering further testing and ultimately making a diagnosis and treatment plan.

other important symptoms

The other symptoms you might experience along with cloudy urine will depend on the root cause.

  • Dehydration. Dark-colored urine, thirst, infrequent urination, fatigue, confusion, dizziness.
  • UTI. Frequent urination, burning while urinating, strong odor of urine, pelvic pain, strong urge to urinate, Braxton-Hicks contractions.
  • Preeclampsia. High blood pressure, headaches, vision changes, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, swelling and weight gain.
  • Yeast infection. Itching of the vulva or vagina, cottage cheese–like discharge, burning while urinating, pain during sex.
  • STIs. Painful urination or bowel movements, foul-smelling discharge, vaginal spotting or bleeding, lower abdominal pain.
  • Kidney stones. Painful urination, blood in the urine, severe abdominal or lower back pain, nausea and vomiting.

The treatment you’ll receive for cloudy urine will also depend on the cause. Some conditions may respond well to home treatment. Others will require the care of your doctor.

Dehydration

If your dehydration isn’t severe, you can drink more water and other fluids at home. Otherwise, you may need to be hospitalized to receive fluids intravenously.

UTI

You may have heard you can treat a UTI at home by drinking cranberry juice. While this may help, drinking plain water may help flush the bacteria out just as well. Still, it’s important to have the infection treated with antibiotics. Your urine test will help determine which drug your doctor chooses to treat the bacteria.

Preeclampsia

Delivery of your baby is usually the best treatment for preeclampsia, but it may not be possible until you are further along. You’ll work with your doctor closely to evaluate the next steps based on your individual case. Options include blood pressure medications, corticosteroids, and anticonvulsant medications. Your doctor may also suggest bedrest.

Yeast infection

Mild yeast infections may respond well to over-the-counter treatments, like suppositories and creams. Experts say these options are safe and most effective when taken for seven consecutive days. If your infection does not clear, your doctor may prescribe oral medications.

STIs

Prescription antibiotics are necessary to clear infections like gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Kidney stones

Smaller stones may pass on their own at home. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication to help with discomfort or intravenous fluids to help with dehydration. Larger stones may require surgery or other specialized treatments to remove.

When to see your doctor

Along with their own complications, some conditions that cause cloudy urine may also lead to preterm labor.

Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing changes in vaginal discharge, bleeding, pressure in your lower abdomen, cramping or regular contractions, or if your water breaks before 37 weeks. Severe pain and fever are other reasons to call your doctor as soon as possible.

Fortunately, most of the conditions that lead to cloudy urine during pregnancy are treatable with antibiotics or other measures. Since prenatal care involves regular appointments throughout your pregnancy, your doctor can keep a close eye on any situations that may arise.

In more serious cases, like with preeclampsia or recurrent UTIs, you may even schedule additional appointments to stay on top of your symptoms and treatment plan.

Not sure if your cloudy urine is a reason for concern? When it doubt, it’s a good idea to discuss any symptoms you’re experiencing with your doctor at your regular prenatal visits.

Your urine may look different because you simply haven’t had enough water to drink or it may be something more serious, like an infection. Don’t hesitate to contact your doctor with questions or simply for reassurance.