If you’ve ever finished an intense workout only to discover blood in your urine when you go to the bathroom, you’ve likely been alarmed by the potential health complications suggested by this development. Fortunately, most cases of blood urine after a workout—known as exercise-induced hematuria—are relatively minor, and can be connected to specific causes resulting from, or related to, your exercise.
Most of the time, blood urine is an acute event that goes away on its own. But some cases of hematuria could be a sign that you need to seek out medical treatment—and in rare cases, blood in the urine after running or working out could be an early sign of a much more serious health concern.
Need help evaluating your symptoms and deciding whether to visit a doctor? Here’s a guide to help you out.
Causes of Hematuria
The symptoms of hematuria may help you consider the different types of hematuria you are suffering from. If you notice blood in your urine when going to the bathroom, this is a classic case of gross hematuria, which is different from microscopic hematuria where blood can only be detected in lab testing.
Cases of gross hematuria identified after exercise can likely be traced back to one of the following causes:
- Overexertion. In some cases, bloody urine may simply be a sign that you pushed your body to its limits. While not necessarily a healthy degree of exertion, this also doesn’t pose serious health risks and will likely go away as you recover from your workout.
- Blunt-force trauma. Getting tackled or hit, or falling to the ground during a workout, could cause blood to enter your urine—especially if that trauma strikes the kidneys.
- A urinary tract infection. Bloody urine could be one of your first signs of a UTI.
- Reactions to medication. Certain types of medications, from pain relievers to other medications, could cause bloody urine as a possible side effect.
Can Working Out Cause Spotting?
If you’ve ever noticed bright red spotting after exercise, this could be a sign that exercise has triggered breakthrough bleeding outside of your regular menstrual cycle. This spotting can occur for several reasons, including increased pressure on the abdomen that results in growths and abnormalities—such as endometrial and cervical polyps—that lead to bleeding during exercise.
Hormonal irregularities may also cause bleeding, although this may or may not be related to exercise. If you notice brown particles in your urine as a female, this is more than likely a sign of a urinary tract infection, but it could also be a product of muscular breakdown that occurs after extreme exercise. Keep in mind that men are just as likely to develop this brown discoloration if their bodies are put through extreme exercise.
What is Painless Gross Hematuria?
Along with the presence of blood in urine, one of the most common sports hematuria symptoms is pain that accompanies visible blood in the urine. When hematuria develops without any noticeable pain, this is called painless gross hematuria—and it could be the sign of much more serious health conditions.
The development of painless gross hematuria is one of the first signs of certain bladder disorders, including bladder cancer, and it should be taken seriously—especially if you haven’t undergone an intense workout recently, haven’t increased the intensity of your workout regimen, and haven’t undergone other bodily changes or cycles—such as menstruation—that could increase the likelihood of spotting or bleeding.
When Should I Be Worried About Exercise-Induced Hematuria?
Because of the risk that hematuria could be wrongly attributed to exercise or other benign causes, it’s smart to visit a doctor whenever this bleeding occurs. If you have a chronic issue with exercise-induced hematuria, you and your doctor can work together to better understand this condition, manage any potential causes and complications, and monitor for signs that additional medical attention may be required.
You should also seek out medical attention if your pain level increases when experiencing exercise-induced hematuria. Between the onset of symptoms and your visit with a doctor, you may want to avoid exercising to prevent additional instances of hematuria from occurring.
If you develop painless gross hematuria and aren’t sure if it’s related to exercise, you should seek out an examination from a doctor immediately. This is true even if painless gross hematuria is infrequent, which is typical of hematurias caused by bladder cancer.
While exercise-induced hematuria may not be anything to worry about health-wise, it’s important to rule out more serious possibilities before seeking out options for treating and managing this minor condition. The more you understand the causes of this condition and its possible health implications, the easier it will be to exercise with peace of mind even if this condition persists.