Mucus is a slimy substance that membranes and glands produce to lubricate and protect certain parts of the body. These parts include the urinary tract, so some mucus in the urine is normal.

However, too much mucus or mucus that has changed in color or consistency can signify an underlying condition that may need addressing.

Read on to learn more about mucus in the urine and when to see a doctor.

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Mucus may be present in the urine for many reasons, including those below.

Normal discharge

As the mucus moves through the urinary tract, it flushes out germs that may otherwise cause infection.

Mucus in the urine is thin and fluid-like, and it can vary in quantity. It is typically clear, white, or off-white. If a person notices large amounts of mucus or mucus that changes color, they might have an infection or another health issue.

Sometimes, people may think that there is more mucus in their urine when this mucus is actually coming from the vagina.

Cervical mucus, which leaves the body as discharge, varies in color, thickness, and quantity at different stages of the menstrual cycle, as well as during pregnancy.

Urinary tract infection (UTI)

UTIs are among the most common types of infection that doctors treat every year. Although anyone can get a UTI, they are much more common among females. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, about 40–60% of females will experience at least one UTI in their lifetime.

The symptoms of a UTI include:

  • mucus in the urine
  • blood in the urine
  • burning sensation when urinating
  • urinary urgency

Sexually transmitted infection (STI)

STIs are common, with an estimated 20 million new infections occurring every year in the United States. People aged 15–24 years are most at risk.

Both chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause excess mucus in the urine. This symptom is particularly noticeable in males.

Other symptoms of these STIs include:

Chlamydia:

  • burning sensation when urinating
  • general pain and discomfort in the pelvic area
  • testicular pain and inflammation
  • vaginal bleeding (unrelated to menstruation)
  • white, cloudy discharge

Gonorrhea:

  • general pain and discomfort in the pelvic area
  • pain when urinating
  • vaginal bleeding (unrelated to menstruation)
  • yellow or green discharge

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a functional digestive disorder, which means that the digestive tract does not function normally despite showing no signs of damage or inflammation. IBS is the most common functional gastrointestinal disorder, affecting 10–15% of people worldwide.

One possible symptom of IBS is mucus in the digestive tract. This mucus is present in the large intestine, or colon, but after leaving the body through the anus, it may mix with urine in the toilet bowl and lead people to think that the mucus is in their urine.

Other common IBS symptoms include:

Ulcerative colitis (UC)

UC is a form of inflammatory bowel disease.

To combat damage to the colon, the body may produce excess mucus, which passes from the body in the stool. Again, it can mix with urine in the toilet, giving the impression that there is too much mucus in the urine.

Additional symptoms of UC include:

Kidney stones

Kidney stones are hard deposits that form inside the kidneys and comprise various minerals and salts. The lifetime risk of getting kidney stones is 11% for males and 9% for females.

Stones that remain in the kidneys do not cause symptoms. However, if they move into the urinary tract, they can cause increased mucus, as well as:

  • a persistent need to urinate
  • blood in the urine
  • nausea
  • pain in the abdomen and lower back
  • vomiting

In rare cases, mucus in the urine may be a sign of bladder cancer. However, it is unlikely to be the first symptom of the condition. Symptoms that usually present first include:

  • blood in the urine
  • difficulty urinating
  • fatigue
  • painful urination
  • the urge to urinate frequently

It is more likely that mucus in the urine is related to an infection, a digestive condition, or another cause.

Despite this, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible to rule out severe causes such as bladder cancer.

Anyone who experiences excessive amounts of mucus in the urine or a general increase in mucus production should speak with a doctor.

Although it is common to have some mucus in the urine, too much might suggest an underlying condition that requires medical treatment.

To test for mucus in the urine, a doctor may perform a urinalysis, which involves checking a urine sample under a microscope. The procedure is straightforward and noninvasive, and a person will just need to provide a container of urine.

Many doctors will carry out a urinalysis as part of a routine checkup. They may also carry out this test if they suspect that an individual has a UTI.

The underlying cause of excessive or abnormal mucus in the urine will determine the treatment options.

UTIs

Doctors will prescribe antibiotics for UTIs that are due to a bacterial infection. It is also important to drink lots of water to flush the bacteria from the system.

People who experience recurrent UTIs may need a 6-month or longer course of low dose antibiotics to prevent a new UTI from developing. If a person develops a UTI following sexual activity, they will typically require a single antibiotic dose.

STIs

Doctors will treat both gonorrhea and chlamydia with prescription antibiotics, as no home remedies or over-the-counter (OTC) treatments have proven effective for STIs. Sexual partners will also require treatment for the STI.

A person can reduce their risk of future STIs by always using barrier protection, such as a condom, during sexual activity.

IBS

As IBS is a chronic condition, there is no cure. However, several treatments are available to help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.

Medications include:

  • antidiarrheal medicine, which is available OTC or on prescription, to control diarrhea
  • antibiotics to treat any bacterial infections
  • antispasmodic drugs to prevent intestinal spasms

Certain dietary and lifestyle adjustments may also help, such as:

  • avoiding foods that cause gas and bloating, including cruciferous vegetables and beans
  • removing gluten, which is in wheat, rye, and barley, from the diet
  • taking fiber supplements to relieve constipation
  • taking steps to manage stress, which can be a trigger for symptoms

UC

As with IBS, there is no cure for UC, although there are medicines that may alleviate the symptoms. Such medications include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications and immunosuppressant medications: These can reduce inflammation in the body. A person can use them independently or in combination.
  • A biologic drug: Doctors may prescribe these drugs to people with moderate-to-severe symptoms to block inflammation-causing proteins.
  • OTC pain relievers and antidiarrheal drugs: These medications may be effective for some people, but a person should only take them after consulting a doctor.

Severe cases of UC may require surgery to remove the colon and rectum.

Kidney stones

Smaller kidney stones may not require any treatment, as they can pass from the body through the urine. Drinking more water can aid this process. The symptoms will resolve once the stone has left the body.

Doctors may treat larger stones with extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy — a procedure that breaks up the kidney stone into smaller pieces so that the body can pass them more easily.

Surgery may be necessary to remove very large kidney stones.

As mucus is part of a healthy urinary system, moderate amounts are not a cause for concern. However, excessive amounts of mucus in the urine will need investigating so that a doctor can determine the underlying cause.

Most causes of mucus in the urine are easily treatable with medication, dietary changes, or other appropriate interventions.