There are many conditions that can cause white particles to show up in your urine. Most of them are easily treatable, but you should still check with your doctor to make sure it’s not a sign of something more serious.
Keep reading to learn more about possible causes and how to manage them.
Urinary tract infection
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most common causes of white particles in the urine. Usually bacteria (and, less commonly, certain fungi, parasites, and viruses) can cause an infection somewhere in the urinary tract.
Most UTIs affect your urethra or bladder in your lower urinary tract, but they can also affect your ureters and kidneys in your upper urinary tract.
In both men and women, discharge from the urethra due to a UTI can leave white particles in urine.
Other symptoms of a UTI may include:
- burning sensation while urinating
- more frequent urination
- increased urge to urinate
- difficulty passing more than a small amount of urine
- bloody or cloudy urine
- dark-colored urine
- urine that has a strong odor
- pelvic pain in women or men
- rectal pain in men
- pressure in the pelvis
- pain in lower abdomen
Most bacterial UTIs are easily treated with antibiotic therapy. In rare cases, a UTI can travel up to your ureters and kidneys. If this happens, you may need intravenous (IV) antibiotic therapy.
Seek immediate medical treatment if you have:
- high fever
- nausea and vomiting
- significant pain in lower back and sides at the same level
White particles in your urine can be especially alarming if you’re pregnant. It’s likely due to leukorrhea, normal vaginal discharge that’s usually thin and milky. Vaginal discharge during pregnancy increases. You might notice a lot of it, but it’s completely normal. Some can leak out when you urinate, creating the appearance of white spots.
Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you’re pregnant and have discharge that’s not white, especially if it looks pink or darker.
Other common causes
When your level of a crystal-forming substance (such as calcium oxalate or uric acid) is too high in your urinary tract, it accumulates in your urine and kidney(s). This means you’re at a higher risk of developing hardened kidney stones. These stones can then move into other parts of your urinary tract.
If you have kidney stones that are fairly small, you may pass them while urinating. This can make it look like you have small, white particles in your urine.
Other symptoms of kidney stones include:
- urgent need to urinate
- intense and/or fluctuating pain in abdomen, lower back, or side
- pain radiating to the groin and lower abdomen
- burning or pain during urination
- bloody, cloudy, or smelly urine
- inability to urinate more than a small amount at a time
- nausea and vomiting
- fever and chills
Most small kidney stones and their related symptoms can be treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen) and an alpha blocker (such as tamsulosin) to help you to be able to pass the kidney stone.
If you have larger stones, they may need lithotripsy, a method for breaking up the stones into smaller pieces. In rare cases, you may need a more invasive urological procedure or surgery to remove them.
Sexually transmitted infections
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections passed through vaginal, anal, or oral sexual contact. There are many types of STIs, and several of them can cause genital discharge in both men and women. These include bacterial STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea and the protozoan parasite STI trichomoniasis.
When you urinate, this discharge can leak out into the toilet, making your urine look cloudy or like it has bits of white tissue in it.
Men often don’t have any additional symptoms other than burning during urination with the urethral discharge. In addition to these two symptoms, women may notice:
- vaginal itching
- pelvic pain
If you think you’ve been exposed to an STI, contact your doctor as soon as possible. Most bacterial and parasitic STIs can be successfully treated with a round or two of antimicrobial therapy.
Causes that only affect women
Vaginal discharge during pregnancy (described above) is not the sole cause to affect only women. Due to a more complex anatomy, women are more prone to having urinary or gynecological problems that may also result in white spots in urine.
Cervical mucus is produced and secreted by your cervix. Both the consistency and the amount released change depending on where you are in your monthly cycle.
Before and leading up to ovulation, you might have extra mucus that’s more moist and creamy in appearance than at other times. It’s not unusual for some of this mucus to come out in the urine.
If your mucus discharge is foul smelling, bloody, or green, contact your doctor.
Bacterial vaginosis is an inflammation of the vagina that occurs when there’s an imbalance of its naturally occurring bacteria. It often doesn’t cause any symptoms, but some women notice thin, gray, white, or green discharge from the vaginal area. If this comes out when you urinate, you might notice some white clumps in your urine.
Other possible symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include:
- fishy odor
- burning sensation when urinating
Treatment options for bacterial vaginosis include:
- topical antibiotic gel or cream that you put inside the vagina
- oral antibiotic medication
Vaginal yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of the yeast fungus Candida albicans in the vagina. One of the most common symptoms is a thick, odorless discharge that may look like cottage cheese.
Additional symptoms of a yeast infection include:
- burning during urination or sex
- pain during sex
The telltale symptom of a vaginal yeast infection (thick, white discharge) may come out in the urine, creating white particles.
If you have a vaginal yeast infection, your doctor may have you take an antifungal cream, suppository, or ointment. You can also find over-the-counter versions of most of these. In some cases, a yeast infection may require treatment with a prescription oral antifungal like fluconazole (Diflucan).
Causes that only affect men
Men who experience retrograde ejaculation have dry orgasms, meaning little to no semen is ejaculated. When a man has a retrograde ejaculation, the sphincter that usually prevents semen from entering the bladder doesn’t contract. This causes semen to flow into your bladder instead of out of your penis. When you urinate after ejaculating, you may notice semen in your urine that looks like white particles.
While retrograde ejaculation doesn’t cause any health problems, it can reduce your fertility. In these cases, your doctor may prescribe medication that helps keep your internal urethral sphincter shut during ejaculation. In some cases, infertility treatment may be necessary for couples trying to conceive.
Prostatitis refers to inflammation of the prostate gland. This can be caused by a bacterial infection. Bacterial prostatitis can cause urethral discharge that might leak out into your urine when you have a bowel movement and make your urine look like it has white spots in it.
Additional symptoms of prostatitis include:
- difficulty urinating
- pain when urinating
- pain in the lower abdomen, lower back, or rectum
- foul-smelling urine
- pain in your testicles
- painful ejaculation
- erectile dysfunction
- low libido
- throbbing near genitals or rectum
If you have acute bacterial prostatitis, you’ll likely need antibiotic therapy for two to four weeks, and your doctor may advise you to drink more water.
The bottom line
If you notice white particles in your urine, it’s likely from genital discharge or a problem in your urinary tract, such as kidney stones or possible infection. If you have significant symptoms that accompany the white particles in your urine, you may want to see your doctor. You can work with your doctor to find the underlying cause. Most are easily treatable.