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Urine tests

6-minute read

What are urine tests?

Urine tests can give doctors and nurses useful information about your general health. They can also be used to find health issues.

Even the colour and smell of your urine can give doctors clues about why you are feeling sick.

What are urine tests used for?

Urine can be tested for many different things. You might be asked to take a urine test to:

Examples of diseases that can be monitored are: diabetes, bladder cancer or sexually transmitted infections.

Checking for recreational drug use may be needed for a workplace screen or rehabilitation program.

How do I take a urine sample?

You will need to urinate (pee) into a special plastic jar.

It is important that both your urine sample and the jar stay clean. This will help get a clear reading of any test being done. You should take these steps:

  • Make sure you clean your genital area before taking the sample.
  • Make sure the container does not touch your genitals when you are collecting the urine.
  • Usually you will be asked to take the sample from the middle of the urine stream. This is called a mid-stream sample. You will need to pee a small amount of urine into the toilet first. Then you will need to collect the next part of the urine into the jar.
  • Some urine tests may need the urine from the beginning of the stream. This is sometimes needed for a pregnancy test.
  • Tell the doctor or nurse about any drugs or medicines you are taking. These may change your results.
Image of a specimen jar.
A specimen jar is used when collecting a urine sample.

Your doctor might ask you to take a 24-hour urine collection test. This is a good way to show how your kidneys are working. You will be given clean plastic container to collect all of your urine for one day.

What is a urine dipstick test?

A urine dipstick test can give instant results. This can be done at a visit to the doctor. You will not have to wait for results to come back from a testing laboratory.

The doctor or nurse puts a small stick containing coloured patches into your urine. The results show on the stick very quickly. The patches can change colour, depending on what’s in your urine. Dipstick tests can be used for many different health issues.

Urine pregnancy test

Many urine pregnancy tests can be bought from a chemist and used at home. They can also be done by a doctor or nurse. Tests done in a laboratory are more accurate than home test kits.

Most pregnancy tests work by looking for a pregnancy hormone in the urine. The hormone is called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). hCG is made by the placenta. It is only made by the body if the person is pregnant. A urine test will show hCG in your urine from about 6 to 14 days after fertilisation. A urine pregnancy test can usually show hCG on the first day that your period is due.

Urinary drug test

Urine can be used to test for drugs. There are simple tests that can be done at: your home, sports venue or workplace. More complicated tests are sent to a laboratory.

The drugs most commonly tested for are alcohol, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, cannabis, cocaine and opioids like methadone.

Urine tests for sexually transmitted infections

Urine can also be tested for sexually transmitted infections, or STIs. Tests for these infections need to be sent to a laboratory. It usually takes a few days to get the results.

STI tests can be used to show if there is a chlamydia or gonorrhoea infection. People of all sexualities can be tested for STIs.

Resources and support

If you need to know more about urine tests, talk to your doctor or call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 to speak with a registered nurse, 24 hours, 7 days a week (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria).

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Last reviewed: August 2022

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