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 to flow out.
You may use a catheter if you have nerve damage, a problem with your urinary tract, or diseases that weaken your muscles. Emptying your bladder regularly can prevent urine leaks during the day. It can also prevent kidney damage from blocked urine and 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 used many times. 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 area around your urethra clean. (When you urinate, the urethra carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body and through the penis.)
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.
Gather the supplies you need to insert the catheter. You will need:
You may want to use a clean face cloth or towel, and a bag or plastic tub to hold the supplies.
Wash and dry your hands.
Clean the end of your penis well with soap and water. (If you are not circumcised, clean under the foreskin too.)
Spread the lubricating jelly on the tip of the catheter. Put the other end of the catheter over the toilet bowl or in the container to catch the urine.
Let the urine drain into the container or the toilet.
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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Current as of: October 14, 2016
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Christopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology
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