Intermittent Self-Catheterization (Male): Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Intermittent self-catheterization is a way to completely empty your bladder when you need to. You put a very thin tube (catheter) into your bladder to allow the urine to flow out. You may use a catheter if you have nerve damage, a problem with your urinary tract, an infection, or diseases that weaken your muscles. Emptying your bladder regularly can prevent urine leaks during the day and kidney damage from blocked urine and infections.

You can empty your bladder every 4 to 6 hours, or as your doctor recommends. It takes practise to learn how to place the catheter. It may be uncomfortable at first, but it should not cause pain.

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.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Note signs that you may need to empty your bladder. These include swelling in your belly, a feeling of fullness, sweating, chills, or a headache.
  • Gather the supplies you need to insert the catheter. These include the catheter, a lubricating jelly such as K-Y Jelly that dissolves in water (not petroleum jelly like Vaseline), and a container to hold the urine.
    • Wash and dry your hands.
    • Place the urine container between your legs.
    • Clean the end of your penis well with soap and water.
    • Spread the lubricating jelly on the tip of the catheter and put the other end of the catheter in the container.
    • Insert the catheter into the opening to the penis. Move the catheter until it is in the bladder and urine begins to flow out. Then insert it about 2.5 centimetres more.
    • Let the urine drain into the container.
    • Remove the catheter slowly. Wash it with warm, soapy water; dry it; and put it into a clean container.
    • Wash and dry your hands.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have a fever not caused by the flu or other illness.
  • You have severe pain in your lower back.
  • You have blood or pus in your urine.
  • Your urine is cloudy or smells bad.
  • You have pain or bleeding when you insert the catheter.
  • You have swelling in your belly.
  • You cannot empty your bladder with the catheter.
  • Your symptoms do not get better, or they get worse.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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Current as of: August 12, 2016