How to perform Self Catheterization?

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In some people, a catheter can be inserted to drain urine as needed and then removed right away. When this is done Periodically, it is called intermittent (in-ter-MIT-tent) catheterization (kath-eh-ter-iz-AY-shun). Many people can learn to do this on their own. Doing it yourself is called “self-catheterization.”

A “Clean” Procedure

When you “cath” yourself at home, it is called a “clean” procedure. This means you must keep everything as clean as possible. You will not need to sterilize anything.

Self-Catheterization for Female

Below is a list of the items you will need:

  • 2 clean wash cloths that are warm and wet
  • soap from a pump dispenser
  • a lubricant that is water soluble
  • a catheter
  • a pan to collect the urine
  • a dry pad or towel

How to Use the Catheter?

  1. Gather all of the supplies you need.
  2. Wash your hands well.
  3. Choose a position to self-cath. To sit, sit on a paper towel or water-proof pad with your knees bent, or sit on the toilet. Or you may squat, lie on your back, or stand. If you can, learn to stand, in case toilets would be dirty or not available.
  4. With a washcloth, wash the area of your body between your legs with soap and water. (Always wash from front to back to prevent infection.)
  5. Rinse with the second washcloth.
  6. Put lubricant on the tip of the catheter.
  7. A mirror may help you to locate the urinary opening.
  8. Use one hand to spread the lips of the vagina, which are called the labia (LAY-bee-uh).
  9. On the other hand, hold the catheter about 1 inch from the tip. Direct it upward. Then push it into the urinary opening until urine flows.
  10. Allow urine to flow into the pan.
  11. When the urine flow stops, pull the catheter out.

After You Remove the Catheter

After you pull out the catheter, follow your doctor’s instructions.

If you were told to use a new catheter each time:

  1. Do not try to clean and re-use the catheter.
  2. Be sure to use a new catheter each time you self-cath.

If you were told to re-use the catheter:

  1. Wash the catheter with soap and warm water. Rinse well.
  2. Air-dry the catheter by placing it on a clean paper towel.
  3. Use a new catheter each week.
  4. Do not soak the catheter in disinfectant. Do not microwave it. Do not boil it in water.
  5. In rare instances, your doctor may say to clean your catheter in boiling water for 20 minutes. Check with your doctor about this.

To Dispose of Catheters

Dispose of used catheters and soiled pads in a plastic bag, such as a grocery store bag. Tie it closed, and place it in your household trash.

Self-Catheterization for Male

Intermittent Self-Catheterization Equipment

  • Catheter specified by your physician
  • A container to carry the catheter
  • Cotton balls moistened with soap and water
  • Water soluble lubricant
  • Do not use mineral oil or petroleum lubricant. 

Intermittent Self-Catheterization Procedure

  • Prepare equipment.
  • Wash hands with soap and water.
  • Urinate if you can.
  • Stand, sit or lie down, whichever is easier for you.
  • Hold penis up with one hand and cleanse the tip with a cotton ball moistened with soap and water.  Wash in a circular motion starting at the urethra and working outward.
  • Lubricate the catheter end that will be going into the urethra. Lubricant must be water-soluble.
  • Holding the penis upward, gently insert the catheter through the external meatus.
  • Once you have passed one half length of the catheter through external meatus, lower the penis and slide the catheter the rest of the way into the bladder until urine flows.
  • Allow the bladder to empty completely.
  • To remove the catheter, slowly rotate it as you withdraw it. Stop each time more urine drains.
  • To completely remove the catheter pinch off the end and pull it out. This will prevent urine from flowing back into the bladder.

Check for any unusual odor and/or cloudy hazy urine. Be aware of any changes that need to be reported to your physician.

Use this information only as advised by your doctor. If you have questions or concerns, be sure to talk with your doctor.


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