Urine culture in pregnancy

When is urine culture performed in pregnancy and why? What are the risks of a positive result and what to do to avoid them?

Urine culture or urine culture is the main test for the diagnosis of urinary infections .

This analysis, in fact, searches for the presence of bacteria in the urine , identifies them and allows to identify the most suitable antibiotic to eliminate them, through the so-called “antibiogram” .

Why is urine culture performed during pregnancy?

Due to the physical and hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy, pregnant women have a greater risk of developing urinary tract infections , which can sometimes even be completely symptom-free: we then speak of asymptomatic bacteriuria .

Since these infections, if ignored, can get worse and have negative consequences on the health of mother and child, it is important to carry out periodic checks to exclude the presence of potentially dangerous bacteria in the urinary tract .

For this purpose, in addition to the normal urine test , the gynecologist or midwife will prescribe urine culture .

When is urine culture performed in pregnancy?

Urine culture is usually ordered routinely during the first obstetric visit along with urinalysis, to rule out the presence of asymptomatic bacteriuria .

Subsequently, depending on the specific situation, the gynecologist or midwife could prescribe it several times during the pregnancy, as a periodic check-up or in case of suspicious symptoms , such as:

  • difficulty urinating
  • frequent urination , i.e. the need to urinate often
  • burning or pain when urinating
  • fever
  • cloudy or foul-smelling urine

In fact, these disturbances may indicate the development of cystitis or other urinary infections .

Finally, urine culture is usually requested when the urine test reveals the presence of bacteria, red blood cells or white blood cells in significant quantities in the sediment , which could indicate an ongoing infection.

How is urine culture performed?

To carry out the urine culture test, it is necessary to collect about 10-20 cc of urine , as soon as you wake up in the morning , in a special sterile container (available in pharmacies or supermarkets).

Before proceeding with the sampling, it is important to wash your hands and genitals thoroughly with a non-aggressive detergent.

The collection must include only the so-called “middle urine stream”, i.e. the central part. For this reason, both the first spray and the last drops will have to be discarded . Here’s how to proceed:

  • start urinating normally
  • hold the flow and open the sterile container
  • resume urinating in the container, avoiding touching the inside
  • stop the flow again and close the container
  • stop urinating normally

The collected urine sample must be kept at room temperature and delivered to the laboratory within the following 2 hours . Alternatively, you can refrigerate it for up to 12 hours .

Positive urine culture in pregnancy: what to do?

The result of the analysis must be communicated to the doctor or gynecologist , who will also interpret it in the light of the symptoms present and the results of the urine test .

If the urine culture has revealed the presence of potentially dangerous bacteria , the result will be defined as “positive” .

This occurrence usually indicates that a urinary tract infection is in progress , which will need to be treated with a suitable drug compatible with pregnancy .

For this, the doctor or gynecologist will prescribe a specific antibiotic therapy to eliminate the bacterium responsible for the infection, based on the results of the antibiogram . In addition, they may recommend the use of specific supplements .

In the absence of symptoms and/or other abnormalities in the urine test , however, the practitioner may request a new confirmatory urine culture .

Positive urine culture in pregnancy: the risks

In the event of a positive result, it is important to wait for the doctor’s instructions and not to take antibiotics on your own initiative , because some of these drugs can be harmful to the fetus or compromise the good course of pregnancy.

At the same time, however, it is essential to scrupulously follow the prescribed therapies , which the doctor will choose to ensure maximum safety for mother and child .

In fact, we remind you that an infection that is not treated or treated in the correct way (for example due to an early interruption of the antibiotic or a reduction in the recommended doses ) could worsen and have serious consequences on the progress of the pregnancy, increasing the risk of preterm birth . and other complications .

How much does urine culture cost during pregnancy?

The urine culture test is one of the tests that can be performed free of charge during pregnancy with the National Health Service . To obtain the exemption, however, it is necessary to carry out the examination at a public or affiliated facility . Furthermore, it is important that the code M + the week of gestation (or the code M50 in the case of an at-risk pregnancy ) is specified on the prescription .

Kathryn Barlow is an OB/GYN doctor, which is the medical specialty that deals with the care of women's reproductive health, including pregnancy and childbirth.

Obstetricians provide care to women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, while gynecologists focus on the health of the female reproductive system, including the ovaries, uterus, vagina, and breasts. OB/GYN doctors are trained to provide medical and surgical care for a wide range of conditions related to women's reproductive health.

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