What Is The Procedure To Conduct A Urine Culture Test?

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Urine culture refers to a urine test that is conducted to find bacteria that could cause a urinary tract infection. Bladder urine is supposed to be sterile and devoid of any bacteria or fungi, but sometimes bacteria enters the urine through the urethra, causing a urinary infection.

Urine Culture Test

A urine culture test involves collecting a urine sample and keeping it under specific conditions that encourage growth of bacteria or fungi. If the growth of the organisms is minimal, it means that the test is negative and there is no infection. However, if the growth of organisms is excessive, it implies a positive urine culture test and is indicative of a urinary tract infection.

If the test is positive, then you may need to take some other tests to determine the appropriate treatment or medication to eliminate the infection. These tests are called sensitivity tests.

Between the two sexes, women run a higher risk of developing urinary tract infections. The reason could be largely biological, as the urethra in the female body is shorter and closer to the anus, making it easier for intestinal bacteria to sneak into the urethra. As for men, there have an added advantage in the fact that their prostrate glands contain antibacterial elements which reduce the risk of infection.

Reason Why It Is Conducted

A urine culture test, as mentioned above, is conducted mainly to determine the presence and cause of urinary tract infection. It is also conducted to determine the effectiveness of treatment administered for an infection. Lastly, urine culture tests also help in chalking out the appropriate treatment for urinary infection.


There is no specific preparation for the urine culture test. Being a urine test, it is best taken early in the morning, preferably the first urine of the day should be collected. All you need to ensure is that you apprise your doctor about any antibiotics you are taking or have taken in the recent past, as these could affect the outcome of the test.

Procedure To Conduct The Test

Since you need to collect a urine sample, this is a self-administered test. You will be given a container in which you need to collect your urine sample. Now, it is always advisable to collect your urine midstream, i.e. you urinate for a couple of seconds or more before placing the container under the stream for collection. Since the outer skin of the genital area could contain bacteria or other such organisms, ensure you don't let the urine come in contact with the outer skin.

Women can hold their skin apart while men can retract the foreskin a little further to avoid contact. Don't let the container touch your genital area as it could lead to a transfer of bacteria into the lid. To ensure accuracy of the test, it is advisable to wash your genital area thoroughly or use a medicinal swab to clean it before taking the test. Do remember to wash your hands before and after collecting the urine sample.

Typically, it takes about 2 to 3 days to get the test results, as the labs need to provide time for the organisms to grow.


A normal or negative test result means there is minimal or no growth of bacteria or fungi in the culture. A positive or abnormal culture test means there has been growth of bacteria or fungi in the urine culture. In general, 100.000 or more bacteria p/ml (per milliliter) is indicative of an infection. Bacteria presence ranging from 100 to 100,000 is believed to be caused by contamination of a sample or could also be an infection. Bacterial count below 100 falls in the range of a negative culture result. Do note though, that 100 or less bacteria per ml could also be caused by intake of antibiotics.

As mentioned earlier, in case of a positive urine culture test, you need to take sensitivity tests to determine the appropriate treatment.