A urinary catheter tube drains urine from your bladder. You may need a catheter because you have urinary incontinence (leakage), urinary retention (not being able to urinate), prostate problems, or surgery that made it necessary.
Clean intermittent catheterization can be done using clean techniques.
Urine will drain through your catheter into the toilet or a special container. Your doctor will show you how to use your catheter. After some practice, it will get easier.
Sometimes family members, a school nurse, or others may be able to help you use your catheter.
Catheters and other supplies can be bought at medical supply stores. Your doctor will give you a prescription for the right catheter for you. There are many different types and sizes. Other supplies may include towelettes and lubricant such as K-Y Jelly or Surgilube. Do not use Vaseline (petroleum jelly).
Ask your doctor how often you should empty your bladder with your catheter. Usually it's every 4 to 6 hours, or 4 to 6 times a day.
Always empty your bladder first thing in the morning and just before you go to bed at night. You may need to empty your bladder more frequently if you have had more fluids to drink.
Avoid letting your bladder get too full. This increases your risk of infection or other complications.
Follow these steps to insert your catheter:
Once the catheter is in, urine will start to flow.
Some catheters are meant to be used only once. Many others can be re-used if cleaned appropriately. Most insurance companies will pay for you to use a sterile catheter for each use.
If you are reusing your catheter, you must clean it every day. Always make sure you are in a clean bathroom. Do not let the catheter touch any of the bathroom surfaces; not the toilet, wall, or floor.
Follow these steps:
Throw away the catheter when it becomes dry and brittle.
Call your doctor or nurse if:
Clean intermittent catheterization - male; CIC - male
Cespedes RD, Gerbec JL. Other therapies for storage and emptying failure. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 75.
Updated by: Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Chief of Urology, Cambridge Health Alliance, Visiting Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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