Bladder stones are hardened mineral clumps that form in your bladder. They develop when pee remains in your bladder for a long time. The most common symptom is abdominal pain, but it can also cause problems peeing. If you can’t pee out a bladder stone, a urologist can break it up or remove it.
Bladder stones are hardened mineral clumps that form in your urinary bladder (the organ that holds your urine). They usually form when some urine (pee) stays in your bladder after you use the restroom.
You may not notice small bladder stones. They may leave your body when you pee without any symptoms. Larger bladder stones may be so painful that you may feel sick to your stomach, aren’t able to pee and have other symptoms, such as bloody urine. Go to the nearest emergency room (ER) if you have bladder stone signs, including severe pain, difficulty peeing and other worsening symptoms.
Another name for bladder stones is bladder calculi.
Only about 5% of all stones that can develop in your urinary system are bladder stones.
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You may pee out smaller bladder stones without any obvious symptoms. Large bladder stones can irritate your bladder and cause intense pain, bleeding and problems peeing. Signs and symptoms of a larger bladder stone may include:
Bladder stones form when pee sits in your bladder too long. The waste products that leave your body — salt, potassium, protein waste products and so on — clump together (concentrate) and form hard crystals. This process most frequently happens when you can’t completely empty your bladder when you pee.
Several conditions and factors increase your risk of bladder stones, including:
No, bladder stones aren’t contagious. They aren’t sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and you can’t spread them to another person.
Anyone can get bladder stones, but men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB) over 50 are more likely to develop them.
Around half of people AMAB over 50 have benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH causes your prostate to get bigger. The prostate is about the size of a golf ball, and it makes some of the fluid in your semen (ejaculate) when you orgasm. An enlarged prostate can make it difficult to completely drain your bladder when you pee. Stones can form when pee sits in your bladder for too long.
You’re also more likely to get bladder stones if you:
A healthcare provider will:
They may also order tests to help confirm a bladder stone diagnosis.
A healthcare provider may order the following tests to help diagnose bladder stones:
Typically, a urologist must remove bladder stones. A urologist is a doctor who specializes in conditions that affect the urinary system and male and female reproductive systems. Bladder stone treatment options typically include:
If you have a small bladder stone, you may be able to naturally pass it by increasing the amount of fluids you drink. However, bladder stones often develop because pee remains in your bladder for too long. Drinking more fluids may not help.
It’s very rare that you can dissolve a bladder stone. It depends on what materials make up your stone, and it can take a long time.
Most people recover a week or two after a cystolitholapaxy or surgery.
You may not be able to prevent bladder stones. But you can lower your risk by drinking plenty of water. Water dilutes minerals in your pee, so they’re less likely to clump together and form bladder stones. Talk to a healthcare provider about how much water you should drink every day.
It’s a good idea to talk to a healthcare provider if you’re over 50 and have an enlarged prostate. They may recommend specific techniques or medications to help empty your bladder.
You can also help lower your risk of developing certain types of stones by modifying your diet or taking specific medications.
Some small bladder stones may pass out of the body when you pee without treatment — you may not even have any noticeable symptoms. But for most bladder stones that don’t pass on their own, a urologist can remove them with a minimally invasive procedure or surgery. With proper treatment, bladder stones don’t cause long-term health problems.
Without treatment, bladder stones can cause pain, difficulty peeing, bleeding and infection. Talk to your provider if you have a condition — such as BPH — that increases your chances of developing bladder stones. If you don’t treat the cause, bladder stones may form again.
Most people can return to work, school and other regular activities a few days after getting bladder stone treatment.
The following tips can help provide relief if you have bladder stone symptoms:
Certain foods and drinks can increase your chances of developing bladder stones. These include products that contain a lot of sodium (salt) and sugars. To help prevent bladder stones, it’s a good idea to avoid:
Talk to a healthcare provider if you have any bladder stone symptoms. Stones continue to grow when they remain in your bladder, so it’s important to get treatment as soon as you notice signs.
Go to the nearest emergency room if the pain becomes too severe to manage and you have difficulty peeing.
Kidney stones develop in one or both of your kidneys. Your kidneys are part of your urinary system. They filter your blood and make pee.
Bladder stones develop in your bladder.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Bladder stones may cause mild or no symptoms, or they can cause frustrating or agonizing symptoms, like difficulty peeing and severe pain. It can be a little embarrassing having bathroom problems. But if you start noticing bladder stone symptoms, it’s a good idea to talk to a healthcare provider. Bladder stones start small and can get larger and become more problematic. A provider can also address any health conditions that may cause bladder stones. Treatment can help prevent bladder stones from developing again.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/25/2023.
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