For a bodily function that you've been doing since you were in utero pee can sometimes be surprising. Urinating can be unexpectedly painful, your pee can smell weird, and in some cases, your urine can come out a very alarming colour. If suddenly your toilet bowl is filled with a hue other than the usual yellow, it might give you some pause, but there's no need to freak out.
That said, if your pee goes off the usual colour wheel and you can't seem to pinpoint the cause — such as blood in your pee or if the colour of has been weird for a while — then you should see a doctor. They'll be able to test your urine and identify the underlying cause. In the meantime, here are the pee colours you should be on the lookout for, as well as what they could mean.
You're doing amazing. Pee is made by the kidneys from a mixture of waste called urea and extra water in your blood, according to MedlinePlus. The yellow colour comes from a peptide that's called urochrome, per the Mayo Clinic. The amount of water in your system determines how diluted the pee pigment is. When nothing is wrong and you're appropriately hydrated, urine is straw yellow, and the more water you drink, the less-intense the yellow will be.
If amber is the colour of your urine, that's not a great sign. Shades of gold shouldn't happen naturally — in fact, they're a sign that you're severely dehydrated. The eerie thing about dehydration is that it can often cause decreased urination and sweating, because with less fluid, your body tries to retain what it has. Drink water, and if you have other symptoms of dehydration such as confusion, fainting, or a rapid heartbeat, you should seek medical attention. Other times, orange pee can be caused by taking certain medications, so you might want to double-check the labels to see if that's a reported side effect of anything you're on.
Red or pink.
Blood is often the culprit when your pee turns red or pink. Hematuria is the medical term for having blood in your pee, and it can be caused by a number of factors, ranging from a bladder infection to having sex. Even eating reddish foods such as beets or certain berries can alter your pee colour. Once you can confirm that the blood is in fact coming from your pee (and not your vagina or your anus), see a doctor so they can diagnose the underlying issue.
When you eat specific foods, such as asparagus or ones containing food dye, the colouring can end up affecting the shade of your urine, causing it to turn blueish or green. Or, if you've ingested certain medications (such as the antidepressant amitriptyline) blue or green pee can be a side effect. Finally, in more severe cases, UTIs caused by bacteria may result in green urine, according to the Mayo Clinic. This is just another reason why you shouldn't discount or ignore your UTI symptoms.
When urine is dark brown, but still see-through, then that can be a sign of more serious health conditions that affect the liver, according to MedlinePlus. For example, hepatitis B, an infection that results in liver swelling, can cause dark urine and yellowish skin. Long-term liver damage can also turn urine brown due to a build-up of a pigment called bilirubin. Although these situations tend to be less common, it's important to be aware of the possibility.
Occasionally when you have a urinary tract or kidney infection, your pee will also become cloudy and white and have an odor, according to MedlinePlus. This is a result of bacteria and blood cells mixing with your urine. Again: this is a different thing than vaginal discharge, so it's important to make sure you're sure of the source so you can give your doctor or healthcare provider the appropriate information.