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Self-catheterization is a way to completely empty your bladder when you need to. You put a thin tube called a catheter into your bladder. This lets the urine flow out.
You may use a catheter if you have nerve damage, a problem with your urinary tract, or diseases that weaken your bladder muscles. Emptying your bladder regularly can prevent urine leaks during the day. It can also prevent kidney damage from blocked urine or infections.
Some urinary catheters are left in the bladder for as long as needed. But an intermittent, or straight, urinary catheter is taken out right after it is used. Straight catheters come in different lengths and types. Some types are used one time only. Others can be cleaned and reused. Your doctor or nurse will let you know what type you will need and where to get supplies.
Replace the catheter as instructed or before it wears out. Disposable catheters can be thrown away after each use.
You can empty your bladder every 4 to 6 hours, or as your doctor recommends. It takes practice to learn how to place the catheter. It may be uncomfortable at first, but it should not cause pain. If your doctor asks you to measure your urine, you can catch it in a container that he or she gives you. Note the amount of urine, and the date, and time.
It's very important to be clean when you use the catheter. This helps prevent infection. Keep your hands, the catheter, and the pubic area around your urethra clean. (When you urinate, the urethra carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. The urethra is just above the opening to the vagina.)
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Clean the catheter after each use. Before you start, clean and disinfect the area where you will be working, such as the sink and counter. Then follow these steps:
Use a clean, dry catheter every time. If the catheter is wet or moist, wash it again and rinse it really well before you use it. Prior to use and when cleaning, check the catheter for damage (such as holes or tears) and to see if it’s discoloured. Use a new catheter every 24 hours (or 1 time per day) or sooner if the one you’re using:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.
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Adaptation Date: 3/16/2021
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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