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What Causes Cloudy Urine in Pregnancy?

If you’re noticing something different about your pee while pregnant, you’re not alone. Here’s what could be going on.
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By Dani Wolfe, Contributing Writer
Published December 15, 2023
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If you’re pregnant, you might notice that there’s something off about your pee these days—aside from the fact that you’re running to the bathroom every five minutes. Experiencing cloudy urine when pregnant is pretty common, so don’t worry if it occasionally has a murky appearance. Read on to find out what causes cloudy urine during pregnancy, what to do about it and when you should see your doctor.

Is Cloudy Urine a Sign of Pregnancy?

Nope, cloudy urine is not a reliable sign that you’re expecting. This is because occasional cloudy urine both during and outside of pregnancy isn’t all that uncommon, says Stephanie Hack, MD, MPH, FACOG, a board-certified ob-gyn with a special interest in women’s health advocacy.

Cloudy urine describes any urine that’s not clear, and often appears milky or murky, adds Hack. According to the Cleveland Clinic, cloudy urine can also look white to light yellow rather than its normal straw-yellow color.

What Causes Cloudy Urine in Pregnancy?

Wondering why you have cloudy urine during pregnancy? Here are some of the most common reasons for cloudy urine when pregnant:

  • Dehydration. Not taking in enough fluids can cause your urine to become more concentrated, which makes it look darker, says Amy Wetter, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn at Pediatrix Medical Group in Atlanta. “It’s common in early pregnancy due to dehydration, likely from nausea and/or vomiting, and changes in normal vaginal discharge due to hormones,” she says, adding that dehydration can also happen due to sweat loss, especially in the hot summer months.
  • Vaginal discharge. You might notice more discharge during pregnancy than normal. The Cleveland Clinic says this is your body’s way of protecting you and baby from potential infections traveling up the uterus. “This discharge may fall into the toilet and make the urine look cloudy,” says Wetter. She adds that sometimes increased discharge can be a sign of vaginal infection, but that typically, this is paired with other symptoms such as irritation, itching or odor.
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI). A UTI in pregnancy could also be to blame for cloudy urine. It’s estimated that up to 40 percent of women will have a UTI at some point in their lives, with those who are pregnant at a higher risk, according to UCSF Health. Megan Pallister, MD, FACOG, a board-certified ob-gyn and Lansinoh Clinical Advisory Network Member in Houston, says that UTIs produce increased bacteria and red blood cells in urine, which is what causes that murky and cloudy appearance. Wetter also notes that UTIs can be associated with other symptoms such as frequency, urgency or pain with urination.
  • Preeclampsia. The Mayo Clinic defines preeclampsia as a complication of pregnancy associated with high blood pressure, potentially resulting in complications for Mom and baby if left untreated. Higher levels of protein in your urine due to preeclampsia could cause cloudy urine, particularly in the latter half of your pregnancy or around your due date, says Pallister. Keep in mind that the first signs of preeclampsia are often detected during routine prenatal visits.
  • Diet. What you eat could sometimes affect the look of your urine. “A diet very high in fruits and vegetables may cause a more alkaline urine, which can be cloudy-appearing,” says Pallister. On top of that, the Cleveland Clinic notes that limiting consumption of meats, grains and cheeses can also increase urine cloudiness.

What to Do About Cloudy Urine When Pregnant

How you treat cloudy urine during pregnancy depends on the exact cause of the cloudy urine. Pallister says it’s best to check in with your provider, who will have you come in and leave a urine sample. Your prenatal team will inspect your urine’s clarity, color, protein levels and bacteria. If they suspect infection, Pallister says your team will then send your urine sample for a culture to determine what exactly is going on and steps for your treatment plan.

In most cases, cloudy urine when pregnant is not a concern and is most likely caused by a lack of water intake, discharge changes or what you ate that day. “Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! This will often improve your symptoms,” says Hack.

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On the other hand, if you have persistently cloudy urine while pregnant or additional symptoms like fever, pain, bleeding or abnormal discharge, this warrants an investigation. “Don’t stress! Ask yourself if you have had any other new symptoms and call your doctor,” Pallister recommends.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

Sources

Stephanie Hack, MPH, FACOG, is a board-certified ob-gyn of over 20 years with a special interest in health education and women’s health advocacy. While obtaining her medical degree from Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, she also completed a Master’s degree in public health to broaden her reach. Since then, she has developed multiple community programs, obtained grants to facilitate community health initiatives and served as a commissioner for the D.C. Lactation Commission.

Megan Pallister, MD, FACOG, is a board-certified ob-gyn and Lansinoh Clinical Advisory Network Member in Houston. She is also a member of the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Texas Medical Association, the American Medical Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society of Academic Specialists in General Obstetrics and Gynecology. She received her medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

Amy Wetter, MD, is a board-certified ob-gyn at Pediatrix Medical Group in Atlanta with over 20 years of experience. She received her medical degree at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in 2002 and completed her ob-gyn residency at the University of Cincinnati. She is also a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Cleveland Clinic, Cloudy Urine, September 2021

Cleveland Clinic, Vaginal Discharge, July 2022

University of California San Francisco Health, Urinary Tract Infections

Mayo Clinic, Preeclampsia, April 2022

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