Why Your UTI Test May Be Negative Even When You Have Symptoms

By Melissa Kramer

13 mins

In short, standard UTI test methods do not work well, and you really can’t rely on them.

You may know this already if you have experienced what many others have – a negative UTI test result even though you feel like you have a UTI.

This is a tricky situation. The best way to find the right treatment for recurrent UTIs is to test for the cause, but the tests themselves are not accurate enough to help in many cases.

If you’ve found yourself in this situation once, twice or many times, it’s time to learn why this could be happening, so you’re prepared to ask for a different approach next time.

Article Quick Links

  • How accurate are UTI test methods? Not very. >>>>
  • Why you can’t trust UTI test strips. >>>>
  • 5 Reasons your negative UTI test could be wrong. >>>>
  • Why better testing methods are essential for recurrent UTI sufferers. >>>>
  • Why your doctor may be unable to help with your UTIs. >>>>

Action Steps:

  1. Read this article so you know how to speak with your doctor about your negative test results
  2. Read the next article about UTI test alternatives to learn how you can move past negative UTI test results, and find better answers

How Accurate Are UTI Test Methods?

There are two standard ways to conduct a UTI test:

  1. A rapid dipstick strip test, which is done on the spot by your medical practitioner (or at home)
  2. A urine culture, where your sample is sent to a lab and is tested over the course of 24-48 hours.

Despite being the global standards for UTI testing since the 1980s and 1950s respectively, both of these tests are extremely inaccurate.

Accuracy Of Standard UTI Tests

UTI Test Accuracy

In reality, antibiotics are very often prescribed without any form of UTI test. Patients and doctors are very competent at recognizing the symptoms of a UTI, but there are issues with this approach.

Statistics show that 30-44% of females will experience a recurrence of their first UTI. In this 30-44% it is likely the initial treatment failed.

Evidence suggests that with each recurrence of UTI, another recurrence becomes more likely.

That means the more UTIs you have, the more likely you are to get another.

With every recurrence of UTI, there is an increased risk of an embedded, difficult-to-treat, antibiotic-resistant bladder infection. This is called a biofilm, and it’s helpful to figure out whether this may be an issue for you, as different testing and treatment approaches may be necessary.

If your UTI treatment failed the first time, it is crucial to find out why as soon as possible, in order to break the cycle of recurrence before it escalates.

Why is it so difficult to break the cycle of recurrent UTIs?

Standard UTI test methods focus on free-floating pathogens (which is how UTIs start), rather than looking for evidence of an embedded infection caused by a biofilm.

These methods are also based on a number of assumptions that have since been proven wrong…

First, let’s take a quick look at those urine test strips you can use at home or at the doctor’s office. Then we’ll explain some of the problems with urine culturing done at a lab.

Knowing the issues with both of these tests will arm you with the right questions to ask if you feel like your negative results are wrong.

Why You Can’t Trust UTI Test Strips

UTI test strips are commonly used as an initial indicator for UTI. Studies have shown these test strips are unreliable, and cannot be used to rule out infection.

You’ve probably seen a UTI test strip if you’ve ever been to a doctor for a suspected UTI, but you can also buy them online or over the counter, to use at home. Home UTI test strips often contain only two of the indicators (the little colored boxes) listed below.

What UTI Strip Test Indicators Mean

IndicatorWhy It’s Used
pH LevelIf your urine pH is outside the normal range of 5-7, there could be an issue.
We would generally go into detail about each of these, but as test strips are so unreliable, we don’t want to give them too much weight in this context.

A positive test strip result for any of these suggests there may be an issue.
NitriteSome bacteria that cause UTIs make an enzyme that changes urinary nitrates into nitrites. So if the strip is positive for nitrites, the conclusion is that you have a bacterial UTI.
Red blood cells (erythrocytes)Blood can appear in urine due to strenuous exercise, but generally, blood in the urine is taken to be a sign of infection, inflammation, disease, or injury to the urinary tract.
White blood cells (leukocytes esterase)A positive strip result for white blood cells in your urine indicates an infection in your urinary tract, or possibly, kidney disease.

The aim of UTI test strips is to allow you to perform a quick urine test and find out within minutes whether you have an infection, and whether it is bacterial.

The truth is, studies show that UTI test strips may only be reliable about 30% of the time.

A Quote On Live UTI Free About Recurrent UTIs“My urine was visibly cloudy and it burned when I went to pee. My doctor used a UTI test strip in my urine sample and said everything on the test strip was normal. I was told I didn’t have an infection even though I’ve had UTIs before and I know exactly what they feel like.”

Some studies have bluntly concluded that UTI test strips should be abandoned as a tool for the diagnosis of UTIs in patients with lower urinary tract symptoms.

Unfortunately, official guidelines allow for the use of test strips in diagnosing UTIs, so their use is extremely widespread.

Given the low accuracy of UTI test strips, if the results are negative but you have UTI symptoms, it would generally be recommended that you have a urine culture test done in a lab.

Which brings us to the next problem…

5 Reasons Your Negative UTI Test Could Be Wrong

First, let’s just put it out there that if you received negative results for a urine culture, but you still have symptoms, it is very possible you have a UTI.

This happens very frequently, and we can help explain why.

The process behind urine culture testing is easy enough to understand. First, you provide a mid-stream urine (MSU) sample – also known as a clean-catch sample. Your urine sample is sent to a lab, and (in its simplest form) this is what happens:

Urine culture process

Step One
Your urine is placed on a plate with agar - a substance that encourages bacteria and fungi to grow.
Urine culture procedure

Step Two
The plate is tightly sealed and placed in an incubator at body temperature.
Urinary tract infection test results

Step Three
Any bacteria or fungi that are present are allowed to grow into small, circular colonies over the next 24-48 hours.
Urinary tract infection negative result

Step Four
If there is little or no growth, the test is considered negative.
Selecting the right antibiotic for UTIs

Step Five
If there is growth, the lab technician will take samples from each significant type of bacterial colony, then conduct a gram stain test, which helps to differentiate between types of bacteria.

Testing antibiotic resistance for urinary tract pathogens

Step Six
Further testing is performed to identify specific types of bacteria present, then a susceptibility test is done to find out which antibiotic will be the most effective.

Test results for urinary tract infection

Step Seven
Results are forwarded to your doctor, or directly to you, showing which organism was found, in what concentration, and how it should be treated.
Which drugs to treat UTI

Step Eight
Your doctor prescribes you the recommended antibiotic or antifungal to treat the infection.

This might sound logical, but there are some very important flaws which mean…

Standard urine culture testing is inaccurate in up to 50% of cases. The test we rely on to shed light on UTIs leaves 1 in 2 females in the dark.

Why is the global gold standard UTI test so inaccurate? There are 5 main reasons which you can read all about below.

#1. It Turns Out Urine Is Not Sterile

It has become common knowledge that urine is sterile – it’s even become ingrained in ‘first aid’ advice, like “urinating on a wound is better than using non-sterile water.” But it turns out it’s not.

The bladder has its own unique microbiome, and an ideal balance of microbes that your body does its best to maintain.

Studies have found more than 450 different bacteria in healthy bladders. And in patients with UTIs, they found about 600. That’s a lot of different bacteria that were assumed not to exist in the bladder!

Because UTI test techniques have always assumed urine is sterile, they have always been flawed.

But it doesn’t end there. There are a number of other contributors to the inaccuracy of urine tests, and we’ll delve into some of these below.

#2. The UTI Test Was Never Meant To Be Used For Everyday UTIs

In the 1950s a scientist named Kass conducted two small studies on two groups of females with acute kidney infections (one group of pregnant females, the other non-pregnant females).

Kass discovered that a certain concentration of bacteria in a cultured urine sample was enough to indicate a kidney infection with 80% accuracy. This is called the Kass threshold, and you may have seen reference to it on your UTI test results.

A Defintion On Live UTI FreeThe Kass threshold means a concentration of 100,000 (105) colony forming units (CFU) of bacteria per milliliter of cultured urine must be present to indicate an infection. It is a very specific threshold without much room for interpretation.

The key point here is that the Kass test was already only 80% accurate for acute kidney infections. It was never validated for use in lower urinary tract infections, like bladder or urethral infections.

Yet, this test was embraced by the medical community and has been the global standard UTI test for more than 60 years.

The Kass threshold has since been found to be far too high to detect many lower urinary tract infections. That is, much lower counts of bacteria in the urine can indicate a UTI.

A Doctor Quote About Recurrent UTIs On Live UTI Free “If a urine dipstick or lab test comes back negative but the patient is clearly describing symptoms of a UTI, doctors must listen to them. Urine tests are far from perfect and it is vital to interpret them in the context of the patient’s symptoms.”

Dr Jon Rees, Chair, Primary Care Urology Society, UK

Because modern urine culture tests are based on the Kass test, any bacteria count that is below the Kass threshold will not be considered an infection, and antibiotic susceptibility testing will not be done.

UTI test positive vs negative culture

#3. UTIs Can Be Caused By Multiple Pathogens (The Bad Guys)

Another issue with the standard mid-stream urine culture, or Kass test, is that it looks for a single pathogen, and does not take into account the possibility of multiple infection-causing pathogens.

Instead, if multiple pathogens are found, it is assumed that the urine sample was contaminated.

This is a problem because some chronic infections have been found to be caused by multiple pathogens co-existing in the bladder. And each pathogen may require a different treatment.

A Doctor Quote About Recurrent UTIs On Live UTI Free “Our biological studies reveal mixed microbial infections hiding inside the cells of the bladder. Located there, the microbes seem quiescent but cause low-grade inflammation that may cause various bladder symptoms...Cloistered, inside cells bacteria escape antibiotic and immune attack.”

Professor Malone-Lee, Whittington Hospital, UK

Added to this is the fact that standard urine culture methods are just not able to identify all UTI-causing pathogens. Alternative testing methods, like PCR and NGS have been able to identify uncommon pathogens that do not grow in a urine culture.

#4. White Blood Cells In Urine Are Often Ignored

We mentioned white blood cells (leukocytes) in urine earlier, as one of the indicators on a UTI test strip. As much as we cringe at the word, white blood cells are commonly referred to as pus.

White blood cells are also looked for in a standard urine culture at a lab. If either test method detects white blood cells in your urine, it is likely you have a urinary tract infection.

Unfortunately, the presence of white blood cells in a urine culture is measured against a threshold that was established even earlier than the Kass threshold.

You can think of the white blood cell measurement as a backup to the Kass test. Ideally, you would get UTI test results that show a significant amount of bacteria present, PLUS a level of white blood cells that confirms your body is fighting an infection.

Lots of bacteria paired with pus – an immune system response – builds a solid case for a UTI.

There are three major issues with the measurement of white blood cells in a urine sample:

  1. Much like the Kass threshold, research suggests the threshold for white blood cells is also too high, and that lower levels of white blood cells can indicate a urinary tract infection.
  2. White blood cells die off quickly outside the body, and may have already significantly reduced by the time a test takes place.
  3. If your urine contains white blood cells but fails the Kass test, the raised white blood cell count may be considered an anomaly and dismissed as unimportant.

This second point is commonly referred to as ‘sterile pyuria’.

A Defintion On Live UTI FreePyuria means pus in the urine, and sterile means the absence of bacteria. So ‘sterile pyuria’ basically means pus was found in the urine, but infection-causing bacteria was not.

Many researchers believe sterile pyuria is often incorrectly reported due to the Kass threshold being too high, and that lower levels of bacteria may be present and significant.

A Quote On Live UTI Free About Recurrent UTIs
“I had ongoing symptoms. Sometimes acute, sometimes minor, but always there. I bought UTI test strips to monitor my urine. Every single day it showed I had raised white blood cells, but when I sent my urine to a lab, it kept coming back negative for an infection. I had no idea what was going on.”

#5. Epithelial Cells As An Immune Response Are Overlooked

Epithelial cells are the delicate tissue that can be found lining most of the urinary tract, including the bladder. When you have a UTI, your body can shed these cells as part of its defence against pathogens that form biofilms or intracellular bacterial communities (IBCs).

The body is pretty amazing really. Pathogens invade and start to form communities on and inside the bladder lining cells, and your body starts sacrificing its own cells, in an attempt to foil the plan.

Historically, if these epithelial cells were found in urine that tested negative for bacteria, the cells were considered to be sample contamination. It is now clear that the presence of these cells can actually be an indication of an underlying, embedded infection.

Why Better UTI Test Methods Are Essential For Recurrent UTI Sufferers

When you take a look at the five problems with testing we covered above, it’s easy to understand why up to 50% of standard urine cultures fail to detect an infection.

Standard UTI test methods frequently return negative results despite ongoing UTI symptoms. They do not work as well as they should.

For females with recurrent UTIs, these issues with the standard UTI test can mean that despite having obvious symptoms, they continually receive negative UTI test results and no clear guidance on treatment.

A Quote On Live UTI Free About Recurrent UTIs“I’d had a UTI every month for two years by this stage. Each time, my doctor sent a urine sample to the lab. And every time the results showed a raised white blood cell count and low amounts of bacteria, but not enough to be considered a UTI. No UTI meant no treatment.”

We cannot reiterate enough… No evidence of infection is not the same thing as evidence of no infection.

Or, to put it in a less mind-bending phrase – just because your UTI test comes back negative, it does not mean you do not have an infection.

Ruth Kriz IC treatment“There’s an old expression, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck. It's gotta be a duck. And so to have somebody who has pain, urgency, frequency and burning, and yet they're told they don't have an infection because a urine culture was negative, who do you believe? Are you treating a lab result? Or are you treating a person?”

Ruth Kriz, APRN

You may have been through this yourself. Or perhaps you’ve never had a test done, or have never received your results.

Each of these scenarios leaves you in the same position; a position of frustration and at times, desperation.

We want to help.

There ARE other testing options available, ranging from a modified urine culture test, right up to highly detailed genetic sequencing methods, like those offered by Aperiomics and MicroGenDX. We’ve covered these in the next article.

Only you can decide how important it is to pursue more effective testing and treatment. We understand this is an individual journey for each person.

When To Look For UTI Test Alternatives

Ask yourself a few questions first:

  1. Have you already submitted multiple urine samples for culturing in a lab?
  2. If so, were the results negative despite your symptoms? Did you actually receive your results?
  3. If your results were positive, do you feel the treatment was effective, or did you experience UTI symptoms again shortly after?
  4. Do you feel your recurrent or chronic symptoms are something you are happy to manage, or are you interested in investigating a possible long term solution?
  5. Have you gathered all your previous test results and gone through them with one practitioner to discuss any patterns or trends?

These are all questions we can’t answer for you, but if you feel you have exhausted your current options and you are still experiencing symptoms that impact your life, it could be time to learn more about how to move forward.

If you are uncertain how to answer any of these questions, you are likely to find more clarity by reading the next article on recurrent UTI testing alternatives.

Why Your Doctor May Not Be Able To Help With Your UTIs

Each region has a set or sets of guidelines on how to diagnose, manage and treat illness.

These guidelines are based on the evidence available at the time, and are intended to guide medical practitioners through a best practice approach with each of their patients.

In the USA, guidelines are produced by the government, professional associations and private companies. These are collected by a national database and practitioners can ultimately choose which set of guidelines they prefer to use.

Although guidelines are reviewed, these reviews tend to lag behind new research and new evidence.

Most regions do not offer practitioner guidelines for recurrent UTIs at all.

At least one set of guidelines for recurrent UTIs has been published by the National Institute of Health in the USA. It provides basic information about diagnosis and concludes with:

“Due to a lack of comparative evidence, the decision to begin therapy, choice of therapy and duration should be based on patient preference, allergies, local resistance patterns, prior susceptibility, cost and side effects.”

It doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence about finding the right treatment.

Because of the lack of guidelines for recurrent UTIs, females are often treated under the same guidelines used for a single UTI. The same guidelines that have already failed them repeatedly.

And because doctors rely on guidelines to keep them informed and to guide them on how to help you, when the guidelines do not exist or are incomplete, your doctor is put in a tricky position.

A Quote On Live UTI Free About Recurrent UTIs“I was so frustrated and upset. My antibiotics weren’t working. The tests showed nothing. My doctor even said to me, “I’m sorry. We really don’t have the research to be able to help more. You seem to know almost as much as I do about it.” I was terrified that meant I was going to have UTIs for the rest of my life.”

In the case of alternative UTI test methods and treatment approaches, research is relatively recent, and the evidence for using these methods may be considered insufficient for them to be included in any guidelines at this stage.

As they are not included in any guidelines, it is likely your doctor is either unaware of, or does not have a way to confidently offer you these options. Let alone interpret the results and prescribe an appropriate treatment.

You may need to gather your own research, and ask your doctor to discuss it with you.

In reality, medical practitioners interpret the guidelines according to their own experience, and develop an individual approach based on the resources available to them.

This means you may visit a number of doctors about urinary tract infections and find each of them takes a different approach.

If you feel your doctor is unable to help you with recurrent UTIs or does not take your situation seriously, you should feel comfortable finding another doctor.

There are practitioners who specialize in diagnosing and treating recurrent and chronic UTI, and we’ve listed a few to help get you started on your search.

Share your questions and comments below, or get in touch with our team.

What's Next?

Get Exclusive Insights On Beating UTIs!

We’ll occasionally share updates on new testing and treatments you can try

Ask Questions. Tell Stories!


Cloe says:

Hi I am from new Zealand I have been having problems with my bladder for 3 years my urine smells is cloudy always bits in my urine I have take so many antibiotics and nothing work all test come back normal and fine went though a stage for ages were it kept coming back contaminated any help or advice would be great would a bladder scraping help and how would you get your doctor to listen

Hi Cloe, you might like to read our info on different treatment approaches You can also send us a direct message for more detail on NZ specific resources. Melissa

Tina says:

I am 61 have not been well for past month, Symptoms are urgency to wee, bladder not emptying , urine not flöwing freely, no burning, no stinging. Bad lower backache between ribs and hips, hot flushes although well past menopause chills, headache, extreme fatigue, went to gp, had kidney, liver scan, right kidney not draining properly, back to GP, sent off urine sample, dip stick too many White cells but no urine infection detected, waiting for culture results, blood tests back all ok,seeing urologist in 4 weeks. Meantime feeling terrible.

Hi Tina, it sounds as thought the article above could be very relevant to you, depending on your results. If you have any questions, you can always send us a direct message so we can respond via email. Melissa

Vicki says:

I was diagnosed over the phone with my Dr as having a UTI. My symptom was burning during urination. I was prescribed antibiotics (Macrobid). I took the 5 day dose with no relief. My labs had lab didn’t show anything. For 2 days I took AZO. The burning urination stopped. But then slowly I started to not be able to pee at all. I’ve been sent from my GP to OBGYN to Urology and now Neurology. They have done an MRI but still waiting for results. I had to push for a bladder scan and it’s scheduled for tomorrow. In the meantime I’ve had to learn how to catheterize myself. I’m extremely worried. I’ve never even had a bladder infection before or any other issues. Other than this I’m healthy and on no other meds. Any thoughts or experience in this reaction?

Hi Vicki, are you able to send us a direct message with more info on where you’re based, in case we have useful resources to share? Melissa

Frank says:

Thoughts on the broth culture test offered by United Medical Laboratory (UML) in Northern Virginia?

Hi Frank, we’ve covered this test briefly in our article on testing alternatives. If you have any other questions about it, I’m happy to answer via email if I have useful information. Melissa

Katelyn Williams says:

Hi, about a week ago I started having extreme UTI symptoms and peed blood with cloudy urine. I took Azo (Defense with Antibacterial Protection, 2 pills, 3 times a day) an hour before going to get tested at a Little Clinic.
She called me back claiming my test was negative (which is crazy because I was completely suffering from symptoms).
They claim that it could be cancerous or a special bacteria that can be extreme.
Could it be the Azo masking the bacteria?? Please help!!!!

Hi Katelyn, as you would have read above, there are a number of reasons a urine culture may be negative, even when an infection is present. Antibacterials can also cause this. If you’re concerned, it’s always best to speak with your doctor. If you have any other questions, you can send me an email directly. Melissa

Chandni Karnani says:

my daughter is 5 years and 4 months , she suffers from this constant urge to urinate again and again say upto 20 times .this happens in episodes after say 6 -7 months . urine routine shows 2-4 pus cells , few epithelial cells 1-2 /hpf and culture shows no growth.

but this whole episodes include series of ailments …it starts with abdomen pain, vomit and cough, headaches, low fever, constipation and frequent urination.

in her KUB scan we got mesenteric lymph nodes enlarged.
i am unable to understand what is happening to my poor girl.

first happenend when she was 1yr 10 months then 4years 6 months thereafter 5 years 4 months .

please help

Hi Chandni, I’m sorry to hear your daughter is going through this, it sounds very distressing. If you’d like to get in touch directly, we can share any information via email. Susy

Katlyn says:

I recently noticed blood in my urine, so I went to doctor. Initially I was diagnosed with a uti but they had to wait on urine culture results. A couple of days later I was told I had Gonorrhea. I informed them I hadn’t had sex but they insisted their test was right and refused to do a retest. Idk what to do because there’s no way I can have a sti without having sex.

Hi Katlyn, it seems it is possible for Gonorrhea to be transmitted without sexual intercourse, even if it is very uncommon. It’s always best to seek treatment as early as possible, so it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor about this. It’s also your choice if you want to get a second opinion, so if you’re not comfortable with the advice you’ve been given, you could see another doctor. Melissa

Faith Jones says:

On December 29th I woke up and started peeing blood, little pee and a lot of blood, I went to the doctor and they prescribed a numbing pill for my urethra and an antibiotic I just finished my medicine this morning and tonight at 12 o’clock I feel like I’m going to explode so I use the restroom and a drop the size of a tear comes out, I’m not sure what to do, my doctor also called my mom today and told her my results were negative which is weird bc I was PEEING BLOOD! that’s obviously not normal, I don’t know what to do

Hi Faith, that’s very frustrating and I know how scary it can be to be peeing blood yet have it not be taken seriously enough. Can you send me a direct message with more info on your location so I can share some resources that might be useful? Melissa

Courtney says:

I suffer from chronic UTI’s, this has been going on for 2-3 years now. The most recent UTI has lasted over a month, every time I take antibiotics it seems to go away but comes back within a day or so after finishing them. I have had three urine cultures over this time and two of them have come back contaminated. The first with white and red blood cells and 2+ bacteria the second with 3+ bacteria. I believe I do have more than one type of bacteria causing this. The dip stick test shows positive for a small amount of blood. I’m now terrified that I have bladder cancer! I’m 36 years old and very healthy. I work out everyday as this is my job and I have heard this could cause blood in urine.

Hi Courtney, I’m guessing you’ve read the above information about the inaccuracies of standard testing. One issue is that samples containing multiple bacteria or fungi may be regarded as contaminated, but this may not be the case. It has been shown that infection can be caused by multiple pathogens. You may like to read about alternative testing options, and/or treatment approaches of chronic UTI specialists. You can also get in touch if you have questions. Melissa

Joshua says:

hello there, my mom has been suffering with UTIs for many years now and I’m currently trying to help her heal from them. Are there any natural remedies that can be used to get rid of the biofilms mentioned in this article or just in general help this problem, ie cranberry juice, vitamins, Etc.?

Hi Joshua, we’ve covered a number of natural remedies here. If you’d like more information on anything, you can always send us a direct message. Melissa

Dory says:

I’m beside myself in trying to figure out what’s going on. For the past 3 months I have had recurring UTI episodes/symptoms (5 times). All 3 cultures came back ‘contaminated’, 2 UTI strip tests were negative. Been on 3 antibiotics, still not better. Had prelim diagnosis of IC(from gyno as dr. was useless) but nothing definitive Just vague answers. I’m not a ‘frequent flyer’ to my dr., see 1x year for a physical & that’s it. Would really like to be armed with detailed info so that I can push for further testing, as the nurse who does the UT strip testing insists it’s accurate and will not accept it could be wrong. Or recommendations of a specialist would be great. Thanks in advance!

Hi Dory, I can sympathise with your frustration! We can send some references that may be helpful for you to share with your doctors, and possibly some info on finding a recurrent UTI specialist. If you’d like further details, you can send us a message directly so we can provide these via email. Melissa

Jeannine Boulter says:

Oh my goodness it’s such a relief reading all of this! I’ve had recurrent (chronic?) UTIs for the past six years and seem to have had one for most of this (17 week) pregnancy. Every time I go to see my GP the test is negative and then the culture comes back as negative but all of the usual symptoms are there. I’m wondering if you could point me in the direction of any research on the links between UTIs and pregnancy, and the impact of a UTI on a pregnancy. I’ve been looking but can’t find anything of any credence. Thanks so much!

Hi Jeannine, can you send me a direct message so I can share a couple of studies via email? At this stage I’m not aware of any research that specifically looks at embedded UTI during pregnancy, but other studies may be helpful. It may also be a good idea to find a practitioner with experience diagnosing and treating recurrent/chronic UTI. Melissa

Kimberly says:

I have been suffering from UTI’s for years and it seems to only get worse. I get shorter breaks in between the next UTI. I do the dipstick and it comes back high with white blood cells but when I do a culture test they always come back negative. My urologist has given me antibiotics, but it only fixes the problem once it has shown up again, not helped to prevent it. What are some things I could suggest with him to look at to see about preventing UTI’s?

Hi Kimberly, you may like to read our info about chronic infection, and why that may be the cause of your recurrent symptoms. As for resources to share with your doctor, I can send you some links to additional scientific references if you like. If so, just send me a direct message. Melissa

HY says:

i’ve been having wbc and bacteria in my urine , however not much of uti symptoms . this happen for 5 years after child birth. took 3 antibiotics still the same result. went for urine culture test which doc only said it’s cause u have higher urine prone to infection, no cure.

Hi there, are you able to send me a message directly with a little more info? I may be able to share helpful resources. Melissa

Susan Sula says:

My mother is is 85 years old and she has been suffering with recurrent UTIs for a few years. When she has a UTI, she experiences dizziness and severe shortness of breath. Her doctors don’t believe these symptoms are related to a UTI, but we believe they are. We would like to pursue NGS testing, but it seems the tests must be ordered by a doctor? Can you offer any advice?

Hi Susan, sorry to hear your mother is experiencing that. The testing requirements tend to differ per state in the US, so depending where you are, you may be able to order a test without going through a doctor first. Having said that, it’s essential to find a practitioner who is able to interpret the results, and discuss the best treatment approach with you. Most practitioners are unfamiliar with this type of testing. I can provide some further info if you get in touch directly, or you could reach out to the two companies we’ve listed on our site to discuss options. Melissa

Kim says:

I’ve been suffering with recurrent UTIs for 2-3 years now, it has dramatically reduced my quality of life. I have visited a urologist and further investigations have not revealed any damage to my bladder or anything else remarkable, I continue to get UTIs month after month despite antibiotics and d-mannose. Sometimes the urine culture is negative despite symptoms and other times shows an infection is present. Having read about the biofilm in the bladder wall, what tests can discover this and what is the best treatment plan?

Hi Kim, it’s an experience that is shared by many! We have some information on alternative testing methods here, and about treatment approaches here (including a few specialists). You can reach out if you have further questions after reading these. Melissa

Alex says:

I’ve read various articles online that say culture testing is only 15 to 23% accurate. Do you have any sources that can corroborate that?

Hi Alex, we have a list of studies that reference the inaccuracy of culturing. The list is quite long though – too long for a comment. I can share it with you if you send me an email. Melissa

Maria says:

Hey I had a UTI a couple months ago and it came back like three weeks I took medicine it went away then the symptoms came back I took another pac of medicine the brown pill makes ur pee orange the symptoms went away then it came back I’m so frustrated cause now they saying I’m UTI negative but I still feel the symptoms idk what to do at this point seems like the doctor can’t help much but repeat same treatment smh

Hi Maria, we speak to so many people with similar stories! If you haven’t already, you may like to read our info on recurrent UTI treatment, alternative testing methods and chronic UTI. It may be necessary to find a practitioner that has experience successfully treating recurrent UTI. You can get in touch directly if you have any other questions. Melissa

Iryna says:

I live in Ukraine and we don’t have advanced urine tests here. The only option I have is the usual culture test, but the best and the most sophisticated lab in our country/city just doesn’t accept samples without an added preservative (boric acid), which, according to research on animals, can lower test sensitivity even more (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21967098). I’m concerned if it is even worth making this test with boric acid if even usual samples without any preservatives often provide false-negative results. Are my concerns valid? Is it worth looking for a smaller worse equipped lab that does the test the usual ancient way, so to say?

Neil says:

Hi Iryna, I’m living in Ukraine at the moment and am looking for the best UTI clinic. Did you have any luck finding high quality treatment/testing?

Hi Iryna, urine culture tests have caused problems for a lot people with recurrent and chronic UTI, because of the issues listed above for a start. The advanced testing methods mentioned here are possible to order internationally, but you’ll need a practitioner that can help you interpret the results. There is another approach being used in the UK that you might be interested in. A study was recently published that outlines this protocol and you may like to share it with your doctor. I hope this helps. Feel free to get in touch directly. Melissa

Mary says:

I’m 43 yrs old and I don’t remember the last time I had a UTI, but I do remember the symptoms. Recently, I had blood in my urine and burning sensation when I urinated (a trickle) for about 1/2 a day and then it was gone. The following evening I had mild lower left abdomen pain. By the third day it seemed to be all cleared up. As soon as I felt the burning sensation I hydrated with green juices and water. Although, the symptoms were gone I called my dr anyway to get tested. Both tests came back negative and the symptoms haven’t returned. What could it be?

Hi Mary, that’s great to hear your symptoms haven’t returned, I hope it stays that way! I don’t want to speculate as to what could have caused it – we hear many stories about various things that cause short-lived symptoms in people, from kidney stones to vigorous exercise – it’s different for everyone. If you do figure it out, I’d love to hear what you discovered :). Melissa

Tammy Edwards says:

I have never had bladder problems my entire life. I am 43 yrs old and got a confirmed UTI infection back in March. My culture grew out Klebsiella. I was given cipro for 7 days and my symptoms NEVER cleared up. Repeat cultures tested negative and I was labeled with “I.C.”. It doesn’t make sense to me. About 6 weeks after the initial infection, I was given a 5 day course of macrobid which didn’t seem to help much…maybe a little. I am scheduled for a cystocopy with hydrodistention and I’m terrified. Is it possible to see biofilms or leftover infection in the bladder with the cystocopy?? I am in Oregon and can’t find any doctors here to do longer urine culture testing.

Kimberly says:

Tammy, I’m in Oregon too. If you should see this, I can give you docs that will test you correctly. If you get in touch with Melissa at Live UTI Free, she can put you in contact with me.

Hi Tammy, many of those who reach out to us share a similar experience to what you’ve described. I’ve also been there. I can share more information about embedded infection and biofilms via email, if you’d like to get in touch. Melissa

Betty says:

I’ve had UTI for over two years take medicine and when it’s gone the UTI comes back. Each time they take sample send off and call in another medicine. She looked inside of bladder saw some irritation. Now sending me to Infectious disease Doctor.

Hi Betty, we hear a lot of similar stories. It seems standard urine culturing has failed many people. If you want to chat about it further, you can reach me directly via our contact form. Good luck with the new practitioner! Melissa

Nikki says:

Ive never had a UTI but I went in for a routine pregnancy test to be approved for birth control. My doctor came back and asked if i had symptoms because I appeared to have a UTI. When I said no she left it at that. It’s been 2 weeks and I have symptoms (burning, lower abdominal/back pain, frequency), I’ve taken two at home tests that came back positive. I went to get tested to have it treated and the test came back negative at the doctors. I was asked why I was making up symptoms for drugs. I am not understanding why 1) it was positive before and negative now 2) why I have symptoms now and not before but the test results are opposite 3) why a UTI treatment is considered drug seeking?

Hi Nikki, yours isn’t the only story like that we’ve heard – we’ve even heard of people submitting 2 tests in one day, to have one come back negative and another positive. As you’ve read, standard urine culturing can be very inaccurate. Most chronic UTI practitioners do not rely on urine culturing, but will take symptoms into account and use different methods to identify what is causing them. It’s frustrating that your practitioner dismissed your concerns and went as far as suggesting you were seeking unnecessary treatment. Unfortunately, this is also not an uncommon scenario. It can take perseverance to find a practitioner who is willing to investigate deeper. Feel free to reach out via our contact form for more info. Melissa

Kim says:

I tested positive for E faecalis by a NGS test even though a routine urine culture I did the same day came back negative. My E faecalis bladder infection continues even after I’ve taken several antibiotics that the NGS test said it’s been tested/proven to be susceptible to. How could this be? The pain is debilitating.

Hi Kim, sorry to hear your treatment hasn’t been successful yet. Can you send some more information via our contact form so I can share any resources that may be helpful? Melissa

Gia Knight says:

I have been getting a lot of uti’s. About 5 in the past 9 months. I was going to urgent care when I got one. They would give me a prescription for antibiotics and it would go away. Then I would get another one. I recently went to my gynecologist. I told him about my reoccurring uti’s. He told me that was way to many. He sent my urine off for testing. It came back negative for infection. He told me I could have kidney stones or bladder cancer. I’m going in 2 days for an ultrasound on my kidneys. I’m 55 years old. I’m very upset and worried. I just don’t understand why the pain stops and I feel better after I start the antibiotics if it’s not a Uti. What are your thoughts on this. Please let me know. Thank you, Gia Knight

Hi Gia, many studies have shown that the standard UTI culture is inaccurate, and we have heard numerous stories from people who have had negative results, then later found out there was a pathogenic cause for their symptoms. It is possible to receive negative urine culture results while still suffering from an infection. Like you mentioned though, UTI symptoms can have many causes, and it’s very important to work with a health practitioner. If you’d like to chat more about this, you can reach me directly via our contact form. Melissa

Eileen Darby says:

Could you please tell me if there are any studies on biofilm “disrupters” like InterFase Plus? Do they work?

Hi Eileen, this is something we’re currently looking into. It seems most studies into biofilm disrupters test action against biofilms in vitro, however, we are unaware of any conclusive studies that support their use against biofilms in the bladder. This is a frequently asked question, so we’ll cover it in as much detail as we can in a future article. If you come across any relevant research in the meantime, please send it our way! Melissa

Brittany says:

It’s so refreshing and reassuring to actually be able to read the facts for once.
I’m 20 y/o and have struggled with UTIs starting at the age of 15, in the last 5 years I have dealt with frustration, shame and accusations of lying about my pain by doctors because of negative results leaving me with self doubt and wondering what is wrong with me and if I’m going to be like this forever. UTIs have been such a recurring problem in my life that I get anxious when I feel one coming on to the point where I will put off a doctor appointment because I’m worried that the results are going to come back negative and my GP will not recognise and listen to my pain.
I wish this information was much more widespread and understood especially by GPs and other health care professionals.
Thankyou for taking the time to put together this article.

Hi Brittany, thanks for the encouraging feedback. I completely understand the anxiety that comes with the constant fear of UTIs. It can take time to find the right practitioner, and I hope you do. You might like to check out the information in our recurrent UTI testing and treatment articles, to see if any of those alternative options resonate with you. We are also working on some resources that may help when you do visit a doctor. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to reach out directly via our contact form. We’d love to hear about your progress. Melissa

Hi Kenya, I’m so glad to hear you found something that worked for you! Melissa

Have You Taken Our Quiz?

We know the right information can be hard to find. Answering a few questions can help us send you straight to the information that is relevant to you. It also contributes to our ongoing research.

Take The UTI Quiz