Emptying your bladder with an intermittent catheter can give you the freedom to get on with activities that are important to you. The key is finding a way to make emptying your bladder with a catheter a part of your daily routine. Here is some advice that other catheter users have found useful when fitting catheterisation into their daily lives.
Use a chart or set an alarm to remember
At first, many people like to use a chart or diary, which can be good visual cues when implementing a new routine. Charts are also helpful if your healthcare professional wants you to keep track of the amount of urine you pass. Other suggestions might be to set a watch or a phone alarm.
Using IC is the preferred treatment when you are not able to empty your bladder normally. This method avoids residual urine in the bladder, which can lead to infections or complications.
Catheterise as prescribed by your healthcare professional
Many healthcare professionals recommend that you catheterise 4-6 times a day if you are not able to urinate in the usual way (due to chronic urinary retention for example).
If you are completely dependent on intermittent catheters to empty your bladder and catheterise less than prescribed by your healthcare professional, you may experience one of the issues listed below:
Leakage might occur because the amount of urine in your bladder is more than it is able to hold. Consider speaking to your healthcare professional about catheterising more frequently to avoid the bladder pressure from building up.
Urinary tract infection
If you do not empty your bladder often or don’t empty it completely, the urine can become stagnant. Bacteria in the urine will multiply, which may lead to an infection of your bladder or urinary tract.
Potential damage to your kidneys
The increased pressure on your bladder can create a backflow of urine to your kidneys, which can lead to an infection or long-term damage to your kidneys. See how the bladder works in 'The basics' section.
If you are catheterising more than 6 times per day and still have problems with urine leakage, you should consult your healthcare professional.
Measure the amount of urine you pass
Try to ensure your bladder is fully emptied every time you catheterise as urine left in the bladder can cause infections. It can be a good idea to occasionally measure the amount of urine you empty. It should be no more than around 2 cups (500 mL). If you empty more than 500 mL, ask your healthcare professional if you should perhaps catheterise more often.
Go out – but still remember to empty your bladder
Keeping your catheterisation routine is just as important when you are out as it is when you are at home. Plan your day ahead, so your catheterisation fits in with your other activities. When is it convenient for you to catheterise? Before visiting the museum? During half time at the football? Read more tips about fitting catheterisation into your social life here.
But always remember to empty your bladder completely regardless of where you are.
To make sure urine is removed from the base of your bladder, you need to remove the catheter slowly and pause if more urine is flowing out. Watch a video for further instruction on how to use different types of catheters.