Overview of Female Intermittent Self-Catheterization
Intermittent self-catheterization is a safe and effective method of completely emptying the bladder at regular intervals. Self-catheterization should be done every 3 to 8 hours, or as recommended by your physician. Never stop self-catheterization unless instructed by your physician.
The following may be an indication that it is time to catheterize:
- Distended bladder
- Feeling of fullness
How to clean your catheter
- Always wash hands before and after procedure.
- Wash catheter after use in warm soapy water.
- Run tap water through the catheter. Place the catheter on a paper towel to air dry.
- Alternating catheters is a good idea.
- Replace your catheter in a clean container.
- Catheters should be discarded when they begin to lose their flexibility, or become brittle or discolored.
- An option to cleaning your catheter is to soak it in a solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts tap water once each week to keep urine crystals from forming inside the catheter.
- Catheter—#14 French or the size 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.
- Spread labia and lift up.
- Cleanse the urethral opening using downward strokes, front to back, with a cotton ball soaked with soap and water.
- Remove catheter from clean container.
- Squeeze lubricant on tissue lubricating the first 2-3 inches of the catheter (the end that will be going into the urethra).Lubricant must be water-soluble.
- Spread labia apart and gently inset the catheter into the urethra in and upward and backward direction approximately 2 inches, until urine flows.
- Allow bladder to empty completely.
- Remove the catheter slowly rotating it as you withdraw. Stop each time more urine drains out.
- To completely remove the catheter pinch off the end and pull it out. This prevents 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.
Important Reminders for Intermittent Self-Catheterization
- Catheterize regularly, every 3 to 8 hours to keep urine volumes low.
- Do not skip a catheterization for any reason.
- Always wash your hands before and after the procedure.
- Fluid intake is directly related to urine output and the frequency of catheterization. Normal intake is six to eight 8-ounce glasses per day.
- If the catheter is accidently dropped and cannot be washed properly, it may be wiped off to remove any possible grit and then used to catheterize.
- It is more important to empty your bladder.
- You are more likely to get an infection from a full bladder than an unwashed catheter.
Call your physician if you have any of the following:
- Fever (check with your doctor to find out at what temperature he of she wants to be notified)
- Pain in the back
- Cloudy urine
- Urine with a foul odor
- Blood in urine
- Sudden pain or bleeding when inserting the catheter
- Inability to keep urine volume within recommended amount
- Inability to urinate of presence of abdominal distention
- Absence of urine for 6 to 8 hours
People with spinal cord injuries should call their doctor if they have a severe pounding headache (this may indicate unresolved autonomic dysreflexia) and immediately catheterize themselves to empty their bladder.