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Self catheterization - female

Clean intermittent catheterization - female; CIC - female; Self-intermittent cathterization

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Bladder catheterization, female

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Description

You will use a catheter (tube) to drain urine from your bladder. You may need a catheter because you have urinary incontinence (leakage), urinary retention (not being able to urinate), surgery that made a catheter necessary, or another health problem.

What to Expect at Home

Urine will drain through your catheter into the toilet or a special container. Your health care provider will show you how to use your catheter. After some practice, it will get easier.

Sometimes family members or other people you may know, such as a friend who is a nurse or medical assistant, may be able to help you use your catheter.

You will get a prescription for the right catheter for you. Generally your catheter may be about 6 inches (15 centimeters) long, but there are different types and sizes. You can buy catheters at medical supply stores. You will also need small plastic bags and a gel such as K-Y jelly or Surgilube. DO NOT use Vaseline (petroleum jelly). Your provider can also submit a prescription to a mail order company to have your catheters and supplies delivered directly to your house.

Ask how often you should empty your bladder with your catheter. In most cases, you empty your bladder 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.

You can empty your bladder while sitting on a toilet. Your provider can show you how to do this correctly.

Using Your Catheter

Follow these steps to insert your catheter:

Cleaning Your Catheter

Most insurance companies will pay for you to use a sterile catheter for each use. Some kinds of catheters are meant to be used only once, but many catheters can be re-used if they are cleaned correctly.

If you are reusing your catheter, you must clean your catheter every day. Always make sure you are in a clean bathroom. DO NOT let the catheter touch any of the bathroom surfaces (such as the toilet, wall, and floor).

Follow these steps:

Throw away the catheter when it becomes dry and brittle.

When away from your house, carry a separate plastic bag for storing used catheters. If possible, rinse the catheters before placing them in the bag. When you return home, follow the above steps to clean them thoroughly.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your health care provider if:

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References

Davis JE, Silverman MA. Urologic procedures. In: Roberts JR, Custalow CB, Thomsen TW, eds. Roberts and Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine and Acute Care. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 55.

Tailly T, Denstedt JD. Fundamentals of urinary tract drainage. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Partin AW, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 6.

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Review Date: 1/31/2019  

Reviewed By: Sovrin M. Shah, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Urology, The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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