If there comes a time where your health requires you to have a urinary catheter, the thought can be intimidating and even a little frightening. It is understandable that you are afraid of when you have to insert your catheter all on your own, but it is nothing you should fear. The truth is, with advances in medical devices and technology, inserting a catheter on your own is a breeze and while you may be uncomfortable at first, over time it will become second nature and you will be able to do it with ease.
Why Do You Need the Catheter?
There are many medical reasons that can lead you to need a catheter on a temporary or long-term basis. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, catheters are most often needed if you have:
- Urinary incontinence (inability to control when you urinate or leaking urine)
- Following surgery on the prostate or genitals
- Urinary retention (not being able to empty your bladder on your own)
- Certain other medical conditions that can affect the bladder such as multiple sclerosis (MS), dementia, or spinal cord injury
Inserting a Catheter Yourself
The process of inserting the catheter varies slightly for men and women, according to Drugs.com. Generally, though, the process is the same. Before beginning, make sure you have all the items you will need ready, including a clean catheter, water-based lubricant, a container to collect the urine, warm water, soap, wash cloth, hand towel, mirror, good lighting, and a bath towel or waterproof pad. Once you have all of your items ready, you need to thoroughly wash your hands in warm water with soap to avoid infection. Next you will want to best position yourself to allow the catheter to go in smoothly. It is best to lie or sit down with your legs open and your knees bent—this is both for men and women. Just in case of an accident, place the waterproof pad or towel beneath you. You will also want to be sure that the other end of the catheter is positioned to allow the urine to flow into a container of some kind. You then need to locate your urethral opening and clean it thoroughly with warm water and soap from front to back. Once you wash, dry the area and put some lubricating jelly on the catheter. Then gently insert the catheter into your urethral opening. Insert it upwards until urine starts to come out and then push it in another 1 to 2 inches depending on if you are a male or a female. Hold the catheter in place until the urine stops.
Then you are all done. Remove the catheter and clean it. The self catheterization process is finished, and with time you will not even need to refer to instructions as it will be second nature to you. Just remember not to fear the process and to keep everything sterile and it will all work out fine.
Brielle F has always enjoyed writing about health related issues and sharing them with others around the world.