Harvard Men's Health Watch

Blood in the urine: What does it mean for your health?

Urinary bleeding can be dramatic and frightening; even the most macho of men might find it hard to see blood in his urine without calling his doctor. But sometimes the call travels in the other direction; many men are surprised and alarmed to get a call from their doctors reporting that the urine that looked clear in the specimen jar actually contains red blood cells (RBCs). Either way, blood in the urine, known technically as hematuria, requires medical evaluation. Although the results are often reassuring, hematuria is a warning symptom that you should never ignore.

Blood can enter the urine from any place in the urinary tract. So the first step in understanding hematuria is to understand your anatomy.

Your urinary tract

Your two kidneys are located deep in your back on either side of your spine just below your lowest rib (see figure). Each is about 4.5 inches long and weighs about 5 ounces. And each kidney contains about a million functional units called nephrons.

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