How should I collect and store a pee (urine) sample?
- collect your pee (urine) sample in a completely clean (sterile) container
- store it in a fridge in a sealed plastic bag if you can't hand it in straight away
Collecting a urine sample
Your doctor or another healthcare professional should give you a container and explain how you should collect the urine sample.
You can collect a urine sample at any time of day, unless your GP or practice nurse advises you otherwise.
The types of urine sample you might be asked for include a random specimen, first morning specimen or timed collection.
To collect a urine sample you should:
- label a sterile, screw-top container with your name, date of birth and the date
- wash your hands (and genitals if possible)
- start to pee and collect either a "first-catch" or a "mid-stream" sample of urine in the container – you will be told which type to collect
- screw the lid of the container shut
- wash your hands thoroughly
Follow any other instructions your doctor has given you.
What is a mid-stream urine sample?
A mid-stream urine sample means you don't collect the first or last part of urine that comes out. This reduces the risk of the sample being contaminated with bacteria from:
- your hands
- the skin around the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body
What is a first-catch urine sample?
A first-catch urine sample means you catch the first part of the urine that comes out.
Storing a urine sample
If you can't hand your urine sample in within 1 hour, you should put the container in a sealed plastic bag then store it in the fridge at around 4C. Do not keep it for longer than 24 hours.
The bacteria in the urine sample can multiply if it is not kept in a fridge. If this happens, it could affect the test results.
Some sample containers contain preservative so that urine can be stored for longer at room temperature. You should be told how to store your urine sample, if you can’t hand it in straight away.
What urine samples are used for
Your GP or another healthcare professional may ask for a urine sample to help them diagnose or rule out certain health conditions.
Urine contains waste products that are filtered out of the body. If the sample contains anything unusual, it may indicate an underlying health problem.
Urine tests are commonly done to check:
- for infections – such as a urinary tract infection (UTI) or some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia in men
- if you are passing any protein in your urine as a result of kidney damage – this is known as an ACR test
Find out more about operations, tests and procedures.
Page last reviewed: 15 December 2022
Next review due: 15 December 2025
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