The uncertainty of having an STI can be frightening. For most people, being tested for STIs is more important than worrying about which STI test is the best. Testing on a urine sample might not be as effective as testing on a swab obtained by a healthcare provider but it is better than not getting checked at all.

According to a study, cervical and urethral testing for STIs has is more successful than urine testing. However, more recent research indicates that some urine tests might be more effective at detecting specific infections.

Chlamydia and gonorrhoea tests performed on urine samples are much more accurate than cervix or urethra swabs and are increasingly taking over as the highest performed tests to determine STDs.

However, finding urine tests for other STIs like trichomoniasis or the human papillomavirus (HPV) is more challenging. 

What is the purpose of urine testing for STIs? 

Many STDs have no symptoms. Testing is the only way to find out if you are infected. People who are not routinely tested can unknowingly transmit STIs to their partners. Unfortunately most routine exams do not include STI testing as a regular component.

STI testing was an unpleasant process, especially for bacterial STIs. Men who suspected they had a bacterial STI such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea would require a swab of their urethra to test for the condition and a cervical swab was collected from women to check for germs during the pelvic exam.

People were less likely to undergo routine STI screening because the procedure was invasive and uncomfortable. This led to the asymptomatic STD epidemic, also known as the silent epidemic. However, people can now easily get tested for STDs as part of routine medical treatment – thanks to urine testing. 

What STD can be detected from urine tests?

Urine samples are frequently used to screen for the following STDs:

  • Chlamydia

The chlamydia urine test exclusively looks for vaginal sex-related infections. You can also get infected through anal or oral intercourse. Ask your doctor to perform a swab test if you’ve engaged in oral or anal intercourse.

  • Gonorrhea

The urine test for gonorrhoea and chlamydia are the same. While infections in other areas of your body won’t be detected in your urine, vaginal or urethral infections will. An oral or anal swab test is required if you’ve had sex.

  • Trichomoniasis

Urine testing for trichomoniasis is becoming more prevalent. Trichomoniasis is a highly prevalent, treatable STD, like gonorrhoea and chlamydia. As a result, it makes perfect sense for medical professionals to do this STD test in Dubai concurrently through urine testing. However, some data indicates that performing comparable tests on a vaginal swab may be more effective than urine testing for chlamydia and gonorrhoea.

  • HPV or human papillomavirus

Another STI found through urine tests is HPV or human papillomavirus. Urine tests for HPV are not yet commonly accessible, like those for trichomoniasis. However, studies indicate that checking vaginal smears against first-voided urine (the urine released as you begin emptying your bladder) is equally effective. 

Urine HPV testing poses the same issue as other HPV tests: many HPV infections resolve independently. Therefore, rather than simply asking someone if they have HPV, it is better to find out if there are any severe cervical alterations. Only a pap smear or VIA (visual inspection with acetic acid) test will allow you to achieve this.

How to prepare for the STD test

A urine STD test does not require any preparation. However, you should always discuss with your doctor which STIs you will be tested for.

Inquire about the selection of the test. If you believe you are at risk for other STIs not included in the prescribed tests, request your doctor for additional testing.

Finally, inquire about the turnaround time for the test results and confirm if the doctor’s clinic will contact you if the results are negative as some clinics only make calls if a test is positive.

Bacterial culture vs urine testing

Currently, detecting bacterial STDs is the primary goal of urine testing. Urine testing for chlamydia and gonorrhoea is routinely accessible and although urine tests for trichomoniasis are offered, they are less popular.

Bacterial culture was previously the gold standard for identifying bacterial STIs, including chlamydia and gonorrhoea. To perform bacterial culture, samples are directly collected from the cervix or urethra to cultivate bacteria.

Bacterial DNA testing in Dubai is now regarded as the superior choice and differs from a bacterial culture. These tests search for bacterial DNA instead of cultivating bacteria. Other DNA amplification methods or the ligase chain reaction (LCR) can accomplish this. These tests can detect minute amounts of bacterial DNA and don’t need a live bacterial sample. They can be used with urine samples rather than only urethral or cervical swabs.

Most people find that needing a gonorrhoea or chlamydia urine test is less stressful and intimidating than a physical examination.

Comparing STI tests for urine with other STI tests

Urine testing is not always accurate at identifying bacterial STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhoea. The effectiveness of the test in women is  the reason for this.

The cervix, where female infections occur most frequently, are  not on the route urine takes to leave the body, whereas urine exits through the penile urethra, where infections are most frequently found in men.

A 2015 analysis that looked at 21 studies on the relative effectiveness of using various sample types to find chlamydia and gonorrhea discovered that:

  • Compared to cervical samples, urine samples had higher sensitivity (a test’s capacity to identify a patient with a disease correctly) and specificity (a test’s capacity to identify a patient without an illness correctly) for chlamydia testing in women
  • Comparing urine samples to urethral samples, the sensitivity and specificity for chlamydia tests in men were 88% and 99%, respectively
  • Comparing urine samples to cervical samples for gonorrhea testing in women, the sensitivity and specificity were 79% and 99%, respectively
  • Comparing urine samples to urethral samples, the sensitivity and specificity for gonorrhea tests in men were 92% and 99%, respectively

Interestingly, urine testing was less effective than self-collected vaginal swabs, which were more comparable to cervical swabs. Some women prefer to have a pelvic exam if urine testing is not an option for them.

Risks associated with urine testing for STDs

Testing urine is risk-free. You will provide the medical professional with a urine sample that you have personally collected. The sample will then be tested to determine whether it contains bacterial DNA.

There are no situations in which STI urine testing is not advised.

Ask your doctor for urine STI tests or self-swabs if you believe they are better suited to you. To ensure that urine tests are accessible, you can call your doctor’s clinic before your appointment. You can always choose to get tested at home or at a location of your convenience.