Some conditions, such as pregnancy, infections, and kidney stones, can cause white particles or sediment in urine, or make it appear cloudy. Typical urine is faint yellow and free from any specks.

Pregnancy and urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common causes of urinary changes, but many other conditions can cause similar symptoms.

In this article, we look at what causes white particles in urine and when to speak with a doctor.

Possible causes of white particles, or sediment, in urine include:

1. Pregnancy

During pregnancy, there are a variety of hormonal changes that can cause vaginal discharge and other symptoms.

Discharge can mix with urine as it leaves the body, and it may appear as white particles in the urine. This is usually not a cause for concern.

Anyone who is pregnant and has discharge that appears darker or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as itching or burning, should speak with a doctor, as they may have an infection.

2. Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

UTIs are a common cause of white particles in the urine.

UTIs occur when bacteria enter the urethra and make their way to the bladder, kidneys, or ureter, where they multiply and cause the infection.

Less commonly, viruses, parasites, or fungi entering the urinary tract may cause a UTI.

According to a 2018 review, a UTI can cause discharge in both males and females and can cause white particles to appear in the urine.

Other symptoms of UTIs include:

  • pain in the abdomen or pelvis
  • an urgent need to urinate
  • pain while urinating
  • trouble urinating
  • cloudy or discolored urine
  • foul-smelling urine
  • fever or chills

Bacterial UTIs usually require antibiotics. If the UTI is left untreated, it may spread to other parts of the body and can cause serious complications.

Anyone who thinks they have a UTI should speak with a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

3. Ovulation

Some people with vaginas 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.

While it is typical for some of this mucus to be released into the urine, a person should speak with a doctor if the discharge has a foul odor or is colored.

4. Retrograde ejaculation

Retrograde ejaculation occurs when the muscle or sphincter that keeps semen from entering the bladder does not contract properly. This can cause the person to have an orgasm without ejaculating, as the semen goes into the bladder instead.

According to a 2016 literature review, when the person empties their bladder later, they may notice stringy, white bits of semen floating in the urine.

Retrograde ejaculation does not pose any direct health concerns, but infertility treatments may be necessary if a couple is trying to conceive.

5. Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is inflammation in the vagina caused by an imbalance of bacteria.

This can cause a variety of symptoms, including a foul or fishy odor and a burning sensation while urinating.

Some people also notice a thin, grayish-white discharge that may mix in with the urine and cause white particles to appear.

Treatment for bacterial vaginosis varies but may include oral antibiotics or suppositories.

6. Yeast infections

A yeast infection may also cause white particles in the urine. The fungus Candida albicans is found naturally in healthy people, but in certain situations, it can grow 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.

In addition to this, a yeast infection may cause other symptoms, such as:

  • redness and swelling around the vagina
  • itching or soreness
  • soreness or pain while urinating
  • pain during sex

Doctors often recommend prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal treatments to treat yeast infections.

7. Prostatitis

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. People with prostatitis may have other symptoms, including:

  • difficulty urinating or painful urination
  • chills or fever
  • pain in the lower back
  • throbbing or pain in the testicles, perineum, or rectum
  • painful ejaculation
  • erectile dysfunction

Most cases of bacterial prostatitis require antibiotics.

8. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

STIs are transmitted through oral, anal, or vaginal sexual contact, and many of them can cause changes in the urine.

STIs that may cause genital discharge in all genders include:

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 diagnosis and treatment. They should also refrain from sexual contact or use a condom or other barrier method to avoid transmitting an STI.

9. Kidney stones

Kidney stones develop when the levels of certain substances, such as uric acid or calcium oxalate, in the body get too high. The excess can build up in the urinary tract and may turn into kidney stones.

If the kidney stones are small enough, the body may expel them through the urine without a person noticing. They may appear as small white particles.

Kidney stones may also cause significant pain in the abdomen and other symptoms, including:

  • feeling the need to urinate constantly
  • difficulty urinating
  • burning and pain 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 OTC pain medications.

According to a 2018 literature review, doctors can also prescribe drugs called alpha-blockers that may help break the stones into smaller pieces.

In rare cases, people may need medical procedures to break up and remove the kidney stones.

The appearance of white particles in urine may change, depending on the underlying cause of the issue.

Symptoms may show up in different ways, including:

  • white flakes in the urine
  • stringy, cloudy substance in the urine
  • grayish sediment floating in the urine
  • murky or milky urine

An underlying medical condition will often cause a few other symptoms to appear. These are important to note, as they will help a doctor diagnose and treat the problem.

Some causes of white particles in the urine, such as pregnancy and ovulation, are considered normal and require no treatment.

If a person notices any additional symptoms, such as itching or pain, they may need to speak with a doctor.

Additional symptoms may be a sign of an underlying condition or infection that requires prompt treatment. Anyone who has frequent white particles in the urine or is uncertain about the cause should also speak with a doctor.

Receiving a proper diagnosis and treatment are the best ways to prevent any possible complications.

Genital discharge is often the cause of white particles in the urine. Finding the underlying cause of this discharge is essential for getting the right treatment. Many cases are easily treatable with a doctor’s help.

Some causes, such as STIs or kidney stones, may require more attention. However, the outlook is good in most cases.

What are some causes of white specks or cloudy urine?

Pregnancy, UTIs, STIs, and some types of underlying conditions or infections can cause the urine to have white specks or a cloudy appearance. Any changes to the appearance or smell of the urine, or any pain or discomfort, should be addressed with a doctor.

Is having white particles in the urine a serious condition?

While seeing anything out of the ordinary in the urine should be addressed with a doctor, most causes of white particles or specks in urine are not life threatening.

What if a person’s urine is cloudy?

Conditions that can cause white particles in the urine, such as infection, bacterial vaginosis, prostatitis, or yeast infections, may also make it appear cloudy. A person should speak with a doctor to address any new or worsening symptoms.