- The Best At-Home UTI Tests
The 5 best at-home UTI test strips
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are exceptionally common medical conditions that account for about 8 million doctor visits every year. While women are nearly 30% more likely to develop these bacterial infections than men, men are still [susceptible to the occasional UTI] (link to Men’s UTI blog). We’ve previously covered UTI treatment options and the signs and symptoms of UTIs, but how do you know if you have a UTI or not? Many people experience mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. This is especially dangerous as untreated infections can cause complications like kidney damage, recurrent UTIs and sepsis (a potentially life-threatening medical emergency).
So, how can you catch a UTI before it causes more serious problems? Luckily, several at-home tests provide accurate results in just a matter of minutes. In this article, we’ll dive into some of the best at-home urinary tract infection tests you can buy over the counter, and what to do once you’ve gotten your results.
A urinary tract infection is a highly common form of bacterial infection that occurs in any part of the urinary system. The urinary system consists of the kidneys, bladder, ureters and urethra. A UTI occurs when bacteria enter the urinary tract and begin to spread to the bladder and urethra.
The E. coli bacterium mostly causes bladder infections. Your body has natural defenses against E. coli, but sometimes these defenses fail and the bacteria is allowed to overpopulate and spread. Infections of the urethra can also be caused by sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Common UTI symptoms include:
- A strong and persistent urge to urinate
- A burning sensation while urinating (dysuria)
- Frequent urination with little volume
- Cloudy or hazy urine
- Strong smelling urine
- Pressure or cramping in the groin or lower abdomen
- Back pain (common with kidney infection)
If you begin to notice these signs of a UTI, you should get tested. Early detection can help with the efficacy of your treatment while preventing further complications.
The best at-home UTI tests
There are four primary types of at-home UTI test kits:
- Dipstick tests
- Urine culture tests
- In-home next-generation sequencing (NGS) tests
- PCR tests
The most affordable and common type of test is a dipstick test. These urine tests check for leukocyte (white blood cell) levels as well as levels of nitrite in the urine. The presence of nitrites in the urine is often a key indicator of a urinary tract infection.
To use a dipstick test kit, you need to urinate on the test strip supplied with the kit. After a few minutes, the strip will change colors depending on your test results. The test kit will come with a color chart to help you interpret your results.
Some of the best OTC UTI tests include:
MyUTI is a convenient at-home test that uses advanced diagnostics to identify the 12 most common organisms known to cause urinary tract infections. MyUTI tests provide access to PCR technology that gets to the root cause of UTIs, providing a more targeted diagnostic and therapeutic option than other types of UTI tests.
You can order a MyUTI test directly from the MyUTI website. Each package comes with a urine sample collection kit with instructions for at-home use. Once you've collected your sample, you send the container back to the MyUTI lab with free overnight shipping. Your results will be ready within 24 hours, and sent to you via a download link. Once you have your results, you can share them with your doctor or a provider in the Sesame or MyUTI networks.
MyUTI test kits can be purchased online. For $199.99, you will receive a test kit, the lab testing service, free shipping to and from your home, and treatment recommendations from a licensed health care provider.
Azo test strips feature both a leukocyte test and a nitrite test. A health care provider will look for both leukocyte and nitrite levels when diagnosing a UTI. In most cases, you will get your results from an AZO test within 2 minutes.
If your nitrite test shows negative results, but you are still experiencing symptoms, you should talk to a health care provider about scheduling a urinalysis test (urine sample test) at a doctor’s office. Some people may not have detectable levels of nitrites in their urine, even though an infection is present.
AZO Test Strips can be purchased online for $11.99 + shipping. 3 test kits are contained in a single package.
Stix test strips check for both leukocyte and nitrite levels in the urine. After using one of the pH-balanced wipes to clean the urethra, you should urinate on one of the test strips. After 2 minutes, your test results should be ready.
If you have symptoms, even after testing negative, you should schedule a lab test to definitively diagnose whether or not you have contracted a UTI. False positive results are rare but may occur (especially in older adults). If you are experiencing symptoms and receive a positive test result, you likely have a urinary tract infection. If you do not have symptoms and test positive, you should schedule an appointment for a full urinalysis test.
Stix Test Strips can be purchased online for $15.00 + shipping. Shipping is free if your order is over $30. 3 test kits and 3 pH-balanced wipes are contained in a single package.
Easy@Home tests work just like the AZO and Stix strips. There are 25 test strips in a single package, making this one of the more cost-effective options. However, Easy@Home test strips have been shown to yield both false positive and false negative results.
Easy@Home test strips are widely available at most pharmacies and online. A pack of 25 test strips will usually cost between $6.50 and $8. The package contains the test strips and a color chart to help you interpret your results.
Uqora is a woman-owned urinary health company that specializes in UTI tests, and women’s health and wellness products. Their Emergency Kit tests for both leukocytes and nitrite levels in the urine. The package also comes with 12 infection control pills (containing sodium salicylate and methenamine) and 12 pain relief tablets (containing Phenazopyridine Hydrochloride). These are OTC drugs that can be purchased without a prescription.
You will get your UTI test results within 2 minutes after urinating on the test strip. These tests are effective at detecting E. coli, which is responsible for the vast majority of urinary tract infections.
Uqora Emergency Kits can be purchased online for $25 + shipping. The package contains 2 test strips, 12 infection control tablets and 12 pain relief tablets.
At-home UTI tests are widely available online and at major pharmacies and medical retail stores like Walgreens and CVS. These retailers may also offer their generic form of test that is usually cheaper than brand name tests.
Check with your insurance provider to determine whether or not these tests can be purchased using FSA or HSA funds. Not all tests are eligible, but you may be able to save some money out-of-pocket by using health savings funds for UTI test purchases.
When to see a doctor
While at-home UTI tests are highly effective at detecting urinary tract infections, they also may yield false positive or false negative test results. In addition, they may miss a certain type of bacteria or pathogen causing the UTI. Because of this, it is recommended that you book a urinalysis lab test at a doctor’s office to definitively diagnose an infection. A health care provider will examine your urine sample for the presence of leukocytes and nitrites under a microscope. If they determine that you do have a current infection, they can prescribe a course of antibiotic treatment to neutralize the harmful bacteria in your body.
Even if you are experiencing symptoms and test positive, you should talk to a health care provider. Antibiotic medication is needed to completely treat a urinary tract infection and prevent recurrent infections. There are no effective OTC or at-home remedies for UTIs, so you will need to see a health care provider to treat the condition anyway.
Want to see a doctor right away? Sesame offers convenient and affordable online UTI video appointments so you can discuss your condition with a licensed health care provider right away.