skip to Cookie NoticeSkip to contents

Your health and safety remain our top priority: Learn about our Safe Care Commitment | Use our Prescreen app before arrival for faster entry | Read the COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Header Skipped.

Urinary Self-Catheterization Instructions

There are two main reasons for catheterizing yourself. One is to empty your bladder on a regular schedule and to keep yourself dry. Another reason is to keep your bladder from getting over-distended. This keeps your kidneys healthy and prevents infections.

  • In order to have healthy kidneys and a healthy bladder, you should plan to start by catheterizing yourself 1 to 3 times daily.
  • If you are able to urinate at all on your own, you should catheterize immediately after you urinate if possible. This allows you to measure your post-void residual.
  • If you find that your post-void residual is consistently less than 4 to 6 ounces or 100 cc’s, you may be able to catheterize less often. Call our office or ask one of our nurses for further advice.
  • If you find that your post-void residual is consistently more than 4 to 6 ounces or 100 cc’s, you may need to catheterize more often. Call our office or ask one of our nurses for further advice.

What you need (equipment)

  • Mirror with a stand
  • Catheter tube
  • Washcloth with soap and rinse water
  • Container to collect urine
  • Lubricant for catheter tip (this is a water soluble gel — Lubafax or KY Jelly — not Vaseline)
  • Anti-bacterial soap (liquid) for soaking catheters.

What to do

  • Have catheter ready for use.
  • Open lubricant and have it ready or on tip of catheter.
  • Have washcloth ready with soap on one side and clear water for rinsing on the other.
  • Urinate if you can.
  • Wash hands well with soap and water.
  • Select most comfortable position for doing this task. Place mirror so that you can see.
  • With fingers of one hand, hold open the vaginal folds and cleanse the area around the urethra by wiping gently from front to back. Use a different section of the washcloth to wipe again.
  • While holding the folds open, take the tip of the catheter tube and lubricate it.
  • Hold the catheter 2 inches from the tip with the other hand, and gently insert the tube in the urethra opening. You can look in the mirror to see where it is.
  • Have the other end of the tube in a container to collect the urine.
  • Insert the tube until the urine comes out of the catheter.
  • Keep in place until the bladder is empty (until no more urine is coming out of the catheter).
  • Remove the catheter and dry the area. Wash catheter with anti-bacterial soap and water and allow to air dry.

Care and storage of catheter

  • No one should handle the catheter except you, a family member, or the person who will be doing your catheterizations.
  • These techniques are not sterile. However, good hand washing before and after the procedure and cleaning the equipment is very important.

Other things to know

  • Your health care practitioner will tell you how often to catheterize yourself.
  • You will be shown how to keep a record of the amounts of urine if this is needed.

When to call your health care practitioner

  • Cloudy, foul smelling urine.
  • Fever (temperature over 100.4ºF. or 38ºC.) or chills.
  • Burning when passing your urine.

If you have any questions or concerns during office hours, call the nurses at (617) 732-4838 and press #2. If you are having difficulty and the office is closed please call the office and press #0 and you will be connected with the Partners Paging System. The page operator will contact the provider on call.

LEARN MORE ABOUT BRIGHAM AND WOMEN’S HOSPITAL


For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.

About BWH