People with hematuria, or blood in their urine, may notice bleeding from the urethra. Blood in the urine is visible with the naked eye when red spots of blood appear in the toilet after urination or when all of the water in the toilet bowl has a pink or red appearance. Tiny amounts of blood can also pass from the urethra that may only be visible under a microscope.
People who notice bleeding from the urethra should see a doctor, especially if they experience frequent and urgent urination, urinary discomfort or unusual weight loss. Patients should get prompt medical help if they have blood in their urine concurrently with fever, nausea or abdominal pain. Individuals who are unable to pass urine or have the appearance of blood clots in their urine need to get medical help right away.
Blood that appears to be passed with urine may come from another source. Women may experience vaginal bleeding that is confused with bloody urine. Men with a prostate disorder may pass blood during ejaculation. Some drugs may cause urine to have a red color and foods such as beets can cause red urine. Blood can appear in the toilet bowel from bloody stools instead of urination. People who pass blood from the urethra may not experience any other signs or symptoms.
Bleeding from the urethra has several serious causes including urinary tract infections, kidney infections or kidney disease. People with cancer or genetic disorders such as sickle cell anemia or Alport syndrome may have blood in their urine. Injuries to the kidney, an enlarged prostate and stones that develop in the kidney or bladder may cause bleeding from a person’s urethra. Several drugs including penicillin, aspirin and heparin may cause bloody urine as a side effect.
Men over 50 have an increased risk of developing an enlarged prostate and also have a greater risk of passing blood through the urethra. People with a family history of kidney stones or kidney disease have a higher than average risk of developing urinary bleeding. Athletes such as long distance runners and other people who engage in strenuous physical activity may develop exercise-induced bleeding of the urinary tract.
Doctors use a physical examination, a patient’s symptoms and medical history to help them diagnose the cause of urinary bleeding. Urine tests measure causes of infection and minerals that help identify the cause of bleeding. Physicians may use imaging tests such as a magnetic resonance imaging test or computerized tomography scan to see detailed pictures of internal organs such as the kidneys and bladder. Doctors treat cases of bleeding from the urethra by treating the underlying cause of this condition.