Urine tests explained

What are urine samples used for?

Your GP or another healthcare professional may ask for a urine sample to help them diagnose or rule out health conditions. Urine contains waste products that are filtered out of the body. If it contains anything unusual, this may indicate an underlying health condition. Common reasons for being asked to provide a urine sample include;

What do I need to know about collecting a urine sample?

If you are in the practice your GP or nurse will give you a container and explain  how to collect a urine sample.  On other occasions you might receive a request by letter or over the phone to provide a urine sample. In these instances you can collect a sample container from our reception desk.

To collect a clean urine sample you should:

  • label the container with your name, date of birth and the date;
  • wash your hands;
  • wash your genitalia to avoid contamination;
  • start to urinate but don’t collect the first part of urine that comes out;
  • collect a sample of urine ‘mid-stream’ in a sample container provided by the practice;
  • screw the lid of the container shut;
  • wash your hands thoroughly.

As long as the sample is clean and properly labelled you can drop the sample container off with the Receptionist. If you can’t hand your urine sample in within an hour, you should keep it in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge (for no longer than 24 hours) to prevent bacteria multiplying and affecting the test results.

You can collect a urine sample at any time of day unless your GP or practice nurse advises you otherwise. If your doctor gives you any other instructions, you should also follow these.

What is a mid-stream urine sample?

A mid-stream urine sample means that you don’t collect the first part of urine that comes out or the last part. This reduces the risk of the sample being contaminated with bacteria from:

  • your hands; 
  • the skin around the urethra (tube that carries urine out of the body). 

How long will I have to wait for a result?

Many urine samples can be quickly analysed using dip-stick analysis so you should know the result immediately if you are in the practice or within 24 hours if you have dropped a urine sample off to us.

For some more complex tests we need to send your urine sample off for laboratory testing. In these instances it might take up to 5 days for results to come back to the practice. These are sent electronically and are checked every day by our GPs. If there is a cause for concern we will phone or write to you within 24 hours of receiving the result. We will not routinely inform you if the results are normal.

Please do not use the eConsult system for urgent matters as we may not respond to your eConsult the same day it is submitted.