Research-backed

Cloudy Urine During Pregnancy: Causes, Diagnosis And Home Remedies

Cloudy Urine During Pregnancy Causes, Diagnosis And Home Remedies

Image: Shutterstock

IN THIS ARTICLE

Pregnancy brings several biochemical changes to a woman’s body. A commonly observed phenomenon is frequent urination. You may observe unusual color and consistency of urine during pregnancy. A number of factors, such as an infection (bacterial or fungal), dehydration, and preeclampsia, can make the urine cloudy in appearance.

In this post, we discuss the various factors causing cloudy urine when pregnant, its causes, and possible remedies.

Causes Of Cloudy Urine During Pregnancy

The presence of substances such as white blood cells, proteins, or vaginal secretions mixed with urine may impart a cloudy appearance to it. Changes in concentrations of hormones in the urine or even some foods you eat may cause cloudy urine during pregnancy. Other conditions responsible may include the following.

1. Dehydration

The body’s water requirements increase during pregnancy. Water is also lost due to morning sickness, which usually continues up to the 14th week of pregnancy. Dehydration or inadequate fluid intake could concentrate your urine, making it darker in color or cloudy.

2. Preeclampsia

It is a condition characterized by increased blood pressure and proteinuria (protein in urine), which could be accompanied by kidney and liver problems in a pregnant woman. Other symptoms include swelling in the hands and feet, headache, or problems with vision.

It may have serious consequences such as convulsions and kidney or liver failure in the mother and cause preterm birth. Preeclampsia generally occurs in the second trimester (after 20 weeks) and may cause cloudy urine due to the proteins present in it (1).

3. Kidney stones

Stones may be formed in kidneys (nephrolithiasis) or other parts of the renal system such as ureters or urethra (urolithiasis). They are composed mainly of calcium oxalate or phosphate and less commonly of uric acid, struvite, and cystine. Stones are quite rare during pregnancy but may cause complications. Besides flank pain and difficulty in urination, hematuria (blood cells in urine) may occur, causing the urine to turn cloudy (2).

4. Urinary tract infection (UTI)

The growing fetus exerts pressure on the adjacent urinary bladder, decreasing its capacity and causing a pregnant woman to urinate frequently. Additionally, hormonal changes (progesterone relaxes smooth muscles) cause physiological changes in the urinary tract, making it prone to urinary tract infection(UTI).

UTIs are mostly bacterial infections that start from the urinary tract and, if left untreated, may reach up to the kidneys. Cloudy urine with a strong smell or a tinge of blood may indicate UTI. Additionally, fever, chills, flank pain, and nausea may occur (3)(4).

5. Fungal infections

The acidic environment of the vagina changes during pregnancy, increasing the risk of yeast overgrowth. Increased vaginal discharge is common during pregnancy, but a fungal (yeast) infection may cause excess cottage cheese-like discharge with foul smell, vaginal itching, or painful urination. Urine may become cloudy if it mixes with the vaginal discharge (5).

6. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Sexually active pregnant women may also contract STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Untreated STDs could increase the risk of preterm birth and many health issues in the newborn. STDs may not cause symptoms initially, but you should look out for excess vaginal discharge, abdominal or pelvic pain, and painful urination. Urine analysis may show pyuria or the presence of white blood cells in urine (produced when the body fights infection), giving urine a cloudy appearance (6).

Diagnosis Of Reasons That Cause Cloudy Urine

Preliminary diagnosis depends on the symptoms accompanying cloudy urine in pregnant women. Inform your gynecologist about any unusual signs and symptoms suggestive of an underlying condition. It may be further diagnosed through the following procedures.

  • Urine analysis refers to testing a sample of your urine for the presence of substances that would help in identifying the underlying condition. For example, UTI and certain STIs are detected based on the type of bacteria found in urine cultures. The presence of protein may indicate preeclampsia if the woman is already hypertensive (1). The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends a urine culture at your first prenatal visit and a re-analysis during the third trimester to rule out harmful infections (7).
  • Blood tests to determine liver and kidney functions or screen for infections.
  • Imaging techniques such as an ultrasound or magnetic resonance urography are performed to detect kidney stones (2).

Treatment For Cloudy Urine During Pregnancy

The treatment will depend on the underlying cause. The condition may resolve with some home remedies, or your doctor may suggest specific treatment depending on the diagnosis.

1. Dehydration

Proper hydration with ample water intake may solve the issue. However, you may need intravenous fluids if dehydration is severe.

2. Preeclampsia

You are advised to rest and reduce salt intake for mild cases, but your doctor may increase the frequency of prenatal check-ups. Severe preeclampsia may require treatment with antihypertensive and anticonvulsant (anti-seizure) medications (8).

3. Kidney stones

Management depends on the size and location of the stones. Most of the small ones pass spontaneously in a few weeks. Your physician may advise you to increase water intake and prescribe pain medications. Make sure you do not take OTC pain killers without consulting your doctor. The need for invasive treatment depends on the stage of pregnancy and complications that may arise due to larger stone size, infection, or severe pain (2).

4. Urinary tract infection (UTI)

Mild infections may be treated with home remedies such as (9):

  • Drinking more water to flush bacteria
  • Cranberry as juice or in salads prevents bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract
  • Probiotics such as yogurt that contains beneficial bacteria (lactobacillus) that restricts the growth of harmful bacteria

Antibiotics may be prescribed in case of persistent or severe infection.

5. Fungal infections

Topical antifungal creams or suppositories applied inside the vagina are preferred during pregnancy as most oral antifungal medications are contraindicated. Consult your gynecologist before using any OTC medication (5).

6. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

STDs need to be accurately diagnosed, and only prescribed antibiotics should be used for treatment.

The factors that cause cloudy urine when pregnant may range from simple dehydration to complicated microbial infections. You should be vigilant of all signs and symptoms that might help your doctor in the diagnosis. These conditions are treatable with medications, ensuring the safety of the mother and baby. Make sure you do not miss your prenatal appointment and use medications only after consulting your gynecologist.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Pregnancy – pre-eclampsia.
    https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/pregnancy-pre-eclampsia
  2. ShireenMeher et al.; (2014); Renal stones in pregnancy.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4934980/
  3. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs).
    https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/urinary-tract-infections
  4. Patricia J. Habak and Robert P. Griggs Jr.; (2021); Urinary Tract Infection In Pregnancy.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537047/
  5. Yeast Infections During Pregnancy.
    https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-complications/yeast-infections-during-pregnancy/
  6. Harold J. Lochner III and Nizar F. Maraqa; (2018); Sexually Transmitted Infections in Pregnant Women: Integrating Screening and Treatment into Prenatal Care.
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs40272-018-0310-4
  7. Urinary Tract Infections During Pregnancy.
    https://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0201/p713.html#afp20000201p713-b10
  8. WHO recommendations for prevention and treatment of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia.
    http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/44703/9789241548335_eng.pdf;jsessionid=7376D825F23A1EF93B1C8A2FC52792FB?sequence=1
  9. Sarita Das; (2020); Natural therapeutics for urinary tract infections—a review.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7498302/
The following two tabs change content below.

Dr. Joyani Das

Dr. Joyani Das is a PhD in Pharmacology with over two years of experience in academics. Previously, she worked as an associate professor, faculty of Pharmacology. With her research background in preclinical studies and a zeal for scientific writing, she joined MomJunction as a health writer. Her research work was published in international journals and publications, such as Elsevier, Current... more