Mechanism for higher urine pH in normal women compared with men

Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2018 Apr 1;314(4):F623-F629. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00494.2017. Epub 2017 Dec 20.


Regulation of acid-base metabolism maintains the pH of body fluids within a tight range. Urine pH (UpH) is also regulated under normal conditions. Median pH of 24-h urines is ~6, but others have noted that UpH in women is higher than men, which has been attributed to differences in diet. If true, it would help to explain the fact that calcium phosphate stones, which form at higher urine pH, are much more common in women than in men. We studied 14 normal subjects (7 men and 7 women) fed identical meals in a Clinical Research Center. Urine and blood samples were collected during fasting and after meals. UpH of women (6.74 ± 0.11) exceeded that of men (6.07 ± 0.17) fed, but not fasting, and UpH rose significantly with meals in women but not men. Serum and urine total CO2 rose with meals in women but not men, and in women net acid excretion fell to zero during the fed period. In a general linear model adjusted for age, sex, and weight, net gastrointestinal anion uptake was the main predictor of UpH and was significantly higher in women (3.9 ± 0.6) than men (1.8 ± 0.7) in the fed period. Urine citrate, an anion absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract, was higher in women than men in the fed state, and fractional excretion of citrate was higher in women than men. The higher fed UpH in women is related to a greater absorption of food anions and raises 24-h UpH.

Keywords: net acid excretion; net gastrointestinal anion; urinary acidification; urine pH.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acid-Base Equilibrium*
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Carbon Dioxide / urine
  • Citrates / urine
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Male
  • Postprandial Period
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Urine / chemistry*


  • Biomarkers
  • Citrates
  • Carbon Dioxide