Urine Dipstick Test - What is it?

Authored by Dr Jacqueline Payne, 02 Jun 2017

Patient is a certified member of
The Information Standard

Reviewed by:
Dr Adrian Bonsall, 02 Jun 2017

A urine dipstick test is the quickest way to test urine. It involves dipping a specially treated paper strip into a sample of your urine. This can be done during your appointment with your doctor, midwife or other health professional. The results are usually available within 60-120 seconds. Your sample doesn't need to be sent to a laboratory for a urine dipstick test, although if the test is abnormal you might need to do another sample to be sent for further testing in a laboratory.

To have a urine dipstick test done you will need to give your medical professional a sample of your urine. This needs to be in a sterile container. Sterile means it has no living germs (bacteria) in it. Usually if you are asked to provide a sample, you will be given a sterile pot to use. Your urine can still be tested for some things if it isn't in a sterile container but the results might not be as accurate and your urine can't be tested for infection.

To get your sample, you need to pee (urinate) straight into the pot. Ideally you shouldn't pee into something else and then transfer it to the special pot, as then it won't be sterile any more. The best sample is one which is called a midstream specimen of urine (MSU). This means that you start to pee then pass the open pot into the stream of urine and then take it away again when you have caught enough urine. You don't stop peeing while doing this. Tightly put the lid on the pot then wash your hands and the pot.

Your health professional will use a urine testing strip to test your urine. There are several different kinds of urine testing strips that test for different things in the urine. The strip has squares on it that change colour in the presence of certain substances. The strip will then be compared to a chart on the side of the urine testing strip package. Often the more intense the colour change, the more of the substance there is in the urine.

A urine dipstick test is done for lots of different reasons, such as:

  • A routine check when you're pregnant.
  • To screen for diabetes.
  • If you think you might have a urine infection.
  • If you have tummy (abdominal) pain.
  • If you have back pain.
  • If you think you've seen blood in your urine (haematuria).
  • Some people with diabetes will do their own urine dipstick testing.

Further reading and references

  • Krogsboll LT, Jorgensen KJ, Gotzsche PC; Screening with urinary dipsticks for reducing morbidity and mortality. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Jan 281:CD010007. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD010007.pub2.

  • Krogsboll LT; Guidelines for screening with urinary dipsticks differ substantially - a systematic review. Dan Med J. 2014 Feb61(2):A4781.

  • Fertility Awareness Methods; Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (June 2015 - updated November 2015)

I am currently in SE Asia and have been paranoid for nearly 3 months that im pregnant - I have taken around 15 pregnancy tests which have all come back negative but i still wasnt convinced! So today...

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