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Have To Use A Catheter? Don’t Panic!

Has your doctor told you need to start using a catheter? While those words may bring up dread in most people, using a catheter is actually not as difficult or as bad as you might think. In fact, once they get used to it, many people find that using a catheter can be quite freeing.

What is a catheter?

A catheter is a device used to drain urine from the bladder. Typically, a small hollow tube is inserted into the urethra and then into the bladder. The urine then passes from the bladder to a drainage bag.

There are two types of catheters – intermittent and indwelling.  An indwelling catheter is one that stays in place for many days or weeks, while an intermittent catheter is used on an as needed basis, and is removed once the bladder is empty.

Why would someone need to use a catheter?

Catheters may be used for short period of times (during surgery or recovery, if there is a blockage in the urethra, etc.), or long periods of time (for patients that have nerve damage that prevents them from being able to control their bladder, or patients who may be incontinent.

If a patient needs a catheter for a long period of time, they will likely use an intermittent catheter, and the patient will learn how to self-catheterize, which just means they learn how to insert it and remove it out themselves.

What risks are involved with using a catheter?

 The main risks of using a catheter is that it’s possible for bacteria to get into the tubing and material, which then transfers to the urinary tract, bladder or the kidneys. This can lead to a urinary tract infection.

The risk of developing a UTI is higher when using an indwelling catheter, since it is present all the time. Those performing self catheterization have less risk, but must be sure to clean the catheter properly to avoid any bacteria from forming on the catheter, which would then be introduced to the urinary tract when inserted.

Other risks include damage to the urethra or bladder caused by incorrect or rough insertion of the catheter, bladder stones, or an allergic reaction to the catheter materials.

What are the benefits of using a catheter?

Using an intermittent catheter allows people with continence issues to live a much more active lifestyle.  It’s an easy, safe and effective way to control your bladder leaks, and allows you to completely empty your bladder if you have difficulty.

Many people who use catheters find that their quality of life greatly improves. They finally find the freedom to do what they want without having to worry about bladder leaks all the time.

How hard is it to use?

Once you get the hang of it, catheters are actually very easy to use.  Start by washing your hands, and then lubricate your sterilized catheter to make it easier to slide into the urethra. Next, simply insert the catheter into the urethra and slowly and firmly push the catheter up until urine starts to flow out of it. Hold the catheter in place until the urine has completely drained from the bladder, then slowly remove the catheter.

Additional Help.

For additional information on how to self catheterize for both men and women, watch our instructional videos below.

How To Self-Catheterize For The Male Patient


How To Self-Catheterize For The Female Patient:



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