Seeing blood in the toilet after peeing isn’t exactly a shocking event. Women get periods; periods equal blood; end of story.
But uh, what if that blood in the toilet or on your toilet paper doesn’t really look like the period kind – say, if your urine is a pinkish, reddish or brownish colour, or you see spots of red blood in your stream (and you’re nowhere near that time of the month)?
First: Don’t freak – but don’t brush it off, either. Seeing blood in your urine is never a normal thing, so finding out what’s going on – a.k.a., getting to a doctor ASAP – should be the first thing on your list.
So… why might there be blood in my pee?
For starters, this has a medical name: Haematuria. According to the US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, there are two types: Gross haematuria (when you can actually see blood in your urine) and microscopic haematuria (when the blood isn’t visible to the naked eye, but can be detected under a microscope).
There are a few reasons why you might suddenly have blood-laced pee. The likeliest causes are kidney stones – small, but hard masses that can form in your kidneys and pass through your urine – and your favourite, urinary tract infections (UTIs), says Dr Jennifer Linehan, urologist and associate professor of urologic oncology at the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
In some cases, vigorous exercise (think running a marathon or taking a spinning class) can cause you to have blood in your urine too, though it’s pretty rare and typically only happens in professional athletes, says Dr Linehan.
Other, less frequent causes of bloody urine include endometriosis (when endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus – in this case, the bladder), an infection in the bladder or kidneys (or the prostate, for men), and in very rare cases, bladder or kidney cancer, says Dr Linehan.
So… do I need to see a doctor about my bloody urine?
Um, yes please. Again, peeing blood is never okay or normal, says Dr Linehan.
That’s true whether you’re having bloody pee with no other symptoms, or if it comes along with things like a burning sensation or pain in your back.
“If it’s to the point where you’re seeing the blood in your urine, you need to get it checked out,” says Dr Linehan. “It could be an infection and advancing to the kidneys,” which could result in more complications like kidney failure or chronic kidney disease, per the NIDDK.
When you see your doctor, they’ll likely do a physical exam (i.e., pressing on your abdomen to check for tender areas), as well as a urinalysis (a.k.a. a pee test) to look for an infection, like a UTI, says Dr Linehan.
If that’s all clear, you may then need to get an MRI or CT scan to see if you have kidney stones or (again, in rare cases) a tumour, she adds.
And if you couldn’t already guess: There is nothing you can and should do for this at home, other than grab your car keys and book it to the doctor, even if the Internet tells you otherwise.