Urine Dipstick Test

Urine dipstick test is a rapid and convenient pregnancy test method. This is due to the fact that the results are ascertained a few minutes after sample collection. Therefore, it becomes very useful in certain health care settings such as urgent care facilities, emergency departments or even the doctor’s office. This method is very effective in terms of cost and does not require any training or specialization to perform the test.

Although this method comes with its own fair share of advantages, it also has some drawbacks in that the color change may be sensitive and thus rendering it inaccurate. For instance, if prompt analysis is not undertaken immediately after removing the dipstick out of the urine sample, color changes may not be accurate if it is exposed to air for some time out of the sample. In addition, information provided by the dipstick may be limited as it generally relies on qualitative analysis rather than quantitative results.

Why Is a Urine Dipstick Test Taken?

Your health care provider will usually ask for a urine sample in every prenatal visit. The medical assistant then does a quick dipstick test which is intended to check the following:

1. Sugar

Having low sugar level in your urine is a normal phenomenon during pregnancy, but when the tests show an elevated sugar level in a couple of prenatal visits or its high in one visit, then probably it could be a sign of gestational diabetes. To prove this, your health care provider may ask you to have a glucose challenge test. This test might also apply even when your urine tests are normal between 24 and 28 weeks in order to confirm this condition.

2. Protein

When you have excess protein in your urine, it could mean that you have urinary tract infection, kidney damage or a certain disorder. If it’s accompanied by high blood pressure later in the pregnancy, it could be a sign of preeclampsia. Your sample may require lab analysis if you have excess protein in the urine and your blood pressure is normal.

3. Ketones  

Usually when you are not getting enough carbohydrates, your body will start breaking down ingested or stored fat to provide your body with essential energy. However, if you experience severe nausea and some vomiting or even weight loss, your urine will be examined for presence of ketones. In case your urine test indicates high ketone and you can’t just eat or consume any food or liquid, you may need medication or intravenous fluids. However, diabetes could also be a sign if the ketones are found in combination with high sugar.

4. Blood Cell or Bacteria

Your medical doctor may need to examine your sample and screen it for certain enzymes produced by white blood cells or nitrites from certain bacteria. These two can be a sign of UTI, and if they show up in any of the dipstick test, then they will be taken to a lab for culture or a sensitivity test. Basically, the culture will just show if you have the condition such as UTI and the sensitive test shows the specific antibiotics which can be used to treat the condition or infection. Initial treatment of UTI during pregnancy is very essential.

Want to know more about what a urine dipstick test is? Check out the video below:

How to Take a Urine Dipstick Test

Every time on your routine prenatal visits, you will be provided with a specimen cup with an antiseptic wipe, then you will be sent to the rest room and asked to produce and give your urine sample. This is how it’s supposed to be done:

  • First of all, wash your hands and then separate your labia with clean fingers, clean your vulva with the wipe from the front to back.
  • Urinate for a couple of seconds, and slip the cup under the stream to collect enough urine for the sample. Most importantly, avoid touching inside of the cup.
  • The medical assistant or nurse will then check the sample. It’s done using a test dipstick which is dipped into the sample urine and then the results are compared to a chart.
  • The nurse will then record the results on your medical chart which the midwife or doctor will always review when seeing you.

Do I Need to Take Other Tests After a Urine Dipstick Test?

If your medical practitioner suspects that you have urinary tract infection depending on the results on the urine dipstick or tangible symptoms, they may get your specimen sent to the lab for culture purposes. The urine sample intended for culture purposes is collected using the same method discussed or detailed above, but only the specimens cup for collection needs to be very sterile. If the same specimen for urine dipstick was done or collected using sterile cup, then there is no need for another sample collection since it can still be used for culture.

The lab carries out very significant tests to determine whether your urine has bacteria. It also finds out which type of bacteria is contained in the specimen and what antibiotic can be used to treat the infection. The urine culture and sensitivity test may take up to about 48 hours. However, the medical doctor can put you on some antibiotics as you await the lab results, especially if you show symptoms of UTI. Testing may continue even when you are on treatment and throughout your pregnancy period. Sometimes you may not show symptoms of any infection. In this case, your doctor will insist on repeating the urine culture especially if you are at high risk of developing a UTI.