At-Home UTI Testing
- Also Known As:
- Urinary Tract Infection Test
- UTI Test Strips
- UTI Dipstick Test
- Urine Dipstick Test
- Dipstick Urinalysis Test
- Home Bladder Infection Testing
Test Quick Guide
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an illness in which bacteria or other microbes cause an infection in the urinary tract. The urinary tract consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra and serves as the system for collecting urine and eliminating it from the body.
At-home UTI testing is one method of detecting a urinary tract infection. Also called a urine dipstick, this test involves dipping a test strip into a sample of urine to check for substances that are often present when a person has a urinary tract infection.
Although at-home testing may provide helpful information, testing for a UTI at home is not appropriate for people without symptoms. At-home testing is not a replacement for a medical evaluation performed by a health professional who has more comprehensive test options to diagnose a UTI.
About the Test
Purpose of the test
The purpose of UTI testing is to determine if an infection in the urinary tract could be the cause of your symptoms. The symptoms of a UTI can include:
- Discomfort, pain, or burning while urinating
- Increased frequency of urination
- The urge to urinate even with an empty bladder
- Cloudy urine or blood in the urine
- Cramping in the groin or abdomen
- Pain in the lower back or sides
- Fever or chills
- Nausea or vomiting
Several tests may be used to determine the cause of these uncomfortable symptoms. The following information describes the purposes of at-home and physician-ordered UTI tests.
Purpose of an at-home UTI test
At-home UTI testing allows you to look for evidence of a urinary tract infection quickly and in the privacy of your home.
Performing a urine dipstick test at home involves submerging a test strip in a sample of urine. The dipstick is designed to detect substances that are typically found in the urine of people with a UTI. Test kits often include multiple test strips and a color chart to help interpret test results.
Although an at-home test may provide information about whether a UTI could be causing your symptoms, it is not a conclusive test. Diagnosing the cause of your symptoms can only be done by a health professional.
Purpose of a physician-ordered UTI test
UTI testing is ordered by doctors to diagnose or rule out a urinary tract infection as the cause of a patient’s symptoms. Urinary tract infections are diagnosed based on your symptoms, a physical exam, and/or urine tests. In some cases, doctors may be able to prescribe treatment for a UTI based on symptoms without additional testing.
When needed, doctors may order several urine tests to evaluate you for a UTI, including a urinalysis, urine culture, and susceptibility tests.
- Urinalysis: A urinalysis involves performing several tests on urine. These tests include an examination of the urine under a microscope and chemical tests that check the urine for various substances. A urine dipstick is one type of chemical test that may be performed during a urinalysis.
- Urine Culture: In a urine culture, a sample of urine is placed into a dish with material that enables bacterial growth. This material is called a culture. A urine culture test allows bacteria from the urine to be grown in a controlled laboratory environment. While not necessary for all patients, urine cultures can be helpful in identifying the specific bacteria that caused a person’s UTI.
- Susceptibility testing: Susceptibility testing may be performed once bacteria have grown in the urine culture. Those bacteria are exposed to various antibiotics to identify the most effective one to use in treating a patient.
In patients with symptoms that suggest a complicated or recurrent UTI, additional tests may be ordered to check for other problems in the urinary system. Doctors consider testing for a complicated UTI based on a patient’s symptoms and other factors that can indicate that the infection may have spread beyond the bladder.
For more information about physician-ordered UTI testing, see our guide to UTI testing.
What does the test measure?
At-home UTI tests use urine dipsticks that check for two substances in the urine: leukocytes and nitrites.
- Leukocytes: Leukocytes are a type of white blood cell (WBC). Tests may assess WBC levels by measuring an enzyme called leukocyte esterase that is released by WBCs when they are present in the urine. Detecting leukocyte esterase in the urine is a sign of inflammation that is most often related to a urinary tract infection.
- Nitrites: Nitrites are substances that may be created in the urine when significant numbers of bacteria enter the urinary tract. Although most bacteria that cause UTIs produce nitrites in the urine, some less common microbes do not.
While finding these substances in the urine suggests a UTI in certain patients, testing for them may be misleading in people without symptoms. This is because leukocytes and nitrites may be present in the urine of people without a UTI or in people with other conditions.
When should I get an at-home UTI test?
An at-home UTI test may provide helpful information for individuals who want to learn whether their symptoms may be related to a urinary tract infection. Although the results of at-home tests may suggest the presence of a UTI, an evaluation by a medical professional is needed to confirm or rule out an infection.
Benefits and Downsides of At-Home UTI Testing
Considering the pros and cons of at-home UTI testing may be beneficial if you’re deciding whether or not at-home testing is right for you.
Benefits of at-home UTI testing include:
- Ease of use: Using an at-home UTI test is as simple as submerging a test strip into a sample of urine. Results are typically available within several minutes.
- Available in bulk: Most at-home UTI tests come in multipacks that allow you to have a test available at a moment’s notice. This could be helpful if you make a mistake during the testing process or if you want to check for UTIs regularly.
- Clear pricing: At-home UTI tests are widely available at a variety of price points. These over-the-counter tests have no hidden fees and come with no risk of surprise medical bills.
Downsides of at-home UTI testing include:
- Does not rule out infection: Negative results on a urine dipstick do not rule out a urinary tract infection. At-home tests are not as accurate as many laboratory tests, and even people who have a symptomatic UTI may still test negative on a dipstick test.
- Requires follow-up: Talking to your doctor and taking follow-up tests may be needed regardless of your at-home UTI test result. Doctors may prescribe treatment based on your symptoms alone or order additional tests to determine the cause of your symptoms.
- Could delay treatment: Urinary tract infections can be uncomfortable. If you have signs or symptoms of a UTI, it is important to talk to your doctor and not delay appropriate medical care.
Ask your doctor for more information about the pros and cons of at-home UTI testing and if testing at home could be helpful in determining the cause of your symptoms.
Types of At-Home UTI Tests
The following tests represent our top choices for at-home UTI tests.
myLAB Box – At-Home UTI Test Kit
Tests for: Nitrites, Leukocytes
Results timeline: 2 minutes
Combining simple urinary tract infection testing with a free telehealth consultation and prescription if needed, the At-Home UTI Test Kit from myLAB Box is our pick for best overall at-home UTI test. Just unpack the test kit to find everything you’ll need to take the test, which can offer information about whether you may have a UTI.
Ordering a test kit from myLAB Box is easy on the myLAB Box website, and shipping is both free and discreet. Once your kit arrives, review the test instructions and collect your urine sample. Avoid urinating for 2-3 hours before conducting this test.
Once your urine sample is collected, dip a test strip into the sample and interpret your results according to the color pattern on the test box. An increase in the intensity of the color on the test strip indicates that you may have an infection in your urinary tract.
After completing this UTI test, you can book a free virtual physician consult with myLABBox. The physician can answer your questions or concerns and even discuss treatment options if needed.
If your test results suggest a UTI, the doctor can prescribe the appropriate medications during your consultation and explain steps to help prevent future UTIs. If you are experiencing symptoms even though your test results are negative, it’s important to contact your primary care physician to discuss additional testing.
Best Test & Relief Kit
Uquora – UTI Emergency Kit
Tests for: Nitrites, Leukocytes
Results timeline: 2 minutes
Uquora’s UTI Emergency Kit is our pick for the best at-home UTI test and relief kit. This test kit includes three items: Clarify, Control, and Soothe.
The Clarify box contains three individually wrapped test strips that detect nitrites and leukocytes in a urine sample. To take this test, hold a test strip in your urine stream for 1-2 seconds. Wait 2 minutes, then read the results by comparing the pads on the test strip to the color chart on the foil pouch.
If your test results suggest the presence of a UTI, you can use Combat to help slow its progression. Combat is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication that combines an antibacterial medicine and a pain reliever. Although Combat may inhibit the progression of a UTI, it’s not a treatment for UTIs and cannot replace medical care from your doctor.
UTIs can be painful, so the UTI Emergency Kit also includes Soothe. Soothe is a medication that provides fast relief for UTI symptoms like pain, discomfort, urgency, and burning. If you take Soothe, it’s important to know that a normal side effect of this medication is bright orange urine.
The UTI Emergency Kit can be purchased directly from uQuora’s website, which also offers other products that support urinary tract health.
AZO – UTI Test Strips
Price: See best price on Amazon
Tests for: Nitrites, Leukocytes
Results timeline: 2 minutes
The UTI Test Strips from AZO are our pick for the at-home UTI test with the clearest instructions. This test kit includes detailed directions, a simple color chart of test results, and recommendations for each potential test result.
Using AZO’s UTI Test Strips is simple. Wet a test strip by holding it in your urine stream for one or two seconds, then set a timer for two minutes. After one minute, match the bottom test pad to the color chart to read your results for nitrites. After two minutes, do the same to read your results for leukocytes.
AZO’s UTI Test Strips include a clean grip handle and are made in the United States. For additional support in managing symptoms of a UTI and maintaining a healthy urinary tract, AZO offers other urinary, bladder, and vaginal health products.
Stix – UTI Tests
Tests for: Nitrites, Leukocytes
Results timeline: 2 minutes
Our pick for the best UTI test subscription service is the UTI Test from Stix. The company also offers a subscription service that allows you to test for UTIs on a regular basis.
The UTI Test kit comes with three pH-balanced wipes, three individually wrapped UTI test kits, and an instruction card to walk you through the steps to take the test.
Start by using a wipe to gently clean the outside of your urethra. Then open the foil pouch and remove the test strip. Urinate into the toilet for several seconds before placing the test pad in your urine stream. Leave the test strip in your urine stream for 1-2 seconds, just enough to dampen the test pad. Dab the test strip on a paper towel, then place it facing up on a flat surface.
Set a timer for two minutes. After the first minute, read the result of the nitrites test by comparing it with the color chart printed on the foil pouch. After the second minute, compare the leukocytes test result to the color chart as well.
If you’re looking for a test kit that combines UTI testing with pain relief, underwear liners, or a daily dietary supplement, Stix also offers a UTI Complete Combo and a UTI Emergency Combo.
Interpreting At-Home UTI Test Results
Interpreting the results of an at-home UTI test involves comparing the color of the test pad on the test strip to the chart included with the home test kit. The color of each test pad indicates whether the test was positive or negative for leukocytes or nitrites.
Negative leukocytes and negative nitrites means that neither substance was detected in your urine. However, negative test results do not rule out a urinary tract infection, and you should talk to a health care provider if you have UTI symptoms or are at higher risk of UTIs.
Positive leukocytes and negative nitrites means that only leukocytes were detected in your urine. Though it is normal to have a few white blood cells (WBCs) in your urine, testing positive for leukocytes means that you have a greater number of WBCs present. An increased number of WBCs may be caused by a UTI but can also occur after taking certain medications or because of other health conditions such as fever, recent pelvic inflammation, and trichomoniasis.
Negative leukocytes and positive nitrites means that only nitrites were detected in your urine. Testing positive for nitrites indicates that you have bacteria in your urine. Although some bacteria is present in the urine of healthy people, an increased number of bacteria will produce more nitrites, which likely indicates that you have a UTI.
Positive leukocytes and positive nitrites means that both leukocytes and nitrites were detected in your urine, which most likely means that you have a UTI. Any positive result requires follow-up with a medical professional.
Regardless of the result of your at-home UTI test results, it’s important to review results with a doctor. Diagnosing or ruling out a urinary tract infection may require several additional tests that can only be ordered and interpreted by a medical professional.
Are test results accurate?
When conducted by a health professional, urine dipstick testing can support a UTI diagnosis in people with symptoms of this condition. However, evidence is limited about the accuracy of at-home UTI testing.
One of the most significant risks for misleading results occurs when people use an at-home UTI test when they have no symptoms. Even positive test results for both leukocytes and nitrites do not suggest a UTI in patients without symptoms.
False positive test results mean that at-home UTI test results are positive despite not having a UTI. These misleading results may be caused by:
- Trichomoniasis, a common STD
- Vaginal secretions in the test sample
- Ingesting substances that turn the urine red, such as beets or certain medications
- Improper collection or storage of the urine specimen
False negative test results mean that at-home UTI test results are negative despite actually having a UTI. These results may be caused by:
- Less common microbes causing a UTI
- Protein in the urine
- High amounts of vitamin C in the urine
Concerns about the accuracy of at-home UTI tests should be discussed with a doctor and the company providing at-home test kits.
Do I need follow-up tests?
In people with symptoms, follow-up testing is necessary after using at-home UTI tests regardless of the test result. Doctors may order an additional urinalysis, urine culture, and/or susceptibility testing depending on your medical needs.
Questions for your doctor after at-home UTI testing
It’s important to talk to your doctor about the results of at-home UTI testing. Helpful questions for your doctor may include:
- Could a UTI be the cause of my symptoms?
- What does my at-home UTI test result mean for my health?
- What other tests are needed to diagnose or rule out a UTI?
- How can I reduce my risk of UTIs?
At-home UTI testing vs. UTI testing in a medical setting
Obtaining a diagnosis of a urinary tract infection can only occur in a medical setting. Although both physician-ordered and at-home UTI tests may involve using a urine dipstick, a doctor is in the best position to evaluate a person’s symptoms and recommend additional testing, especially if it is a more complicated infection. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe treatment based on a person’s symptoms without any further testing.
When needed, physician-ordered testing provides access to a variety of tests used to diagnose and find the cause of a UTI. Important tests that are only available when ordered by a doctor include a complete urinalysis, urine culture, susceptibility testing, and other tests for a complicated UTI.
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