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5 Tips to Avoid Common Self-Cathing Mistakes

Mar 14, 2024 9:21:20 AM / by ABC Medical

ABC Medical

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Learning to self-cath correctly is a big step towards independence. As with any new task, you might feel overwhelmed at first with new terminology and instructions. It’s natural to get frustrated—but remember, you’re not alone! Even pros make occasional mistakes that can result in leaks, soreness or urinary tract infections.

Let’s talk through some self-cathing do's and don’ts. Follow these hard-and-fast rules (and a few gentle reminders) along with your doctor’s guidance to stay healthy, active and comfortable—at home and on the go.

1. Stay Hydrated


  • Be tempted to limit liquids.


  • Drink plenty of water. Filling and emptying your bladder is a good thing—it gives bacteria less of an opportunity to “settle in”.
  • Unless your doctor says otherwise, aim for 2-3 liters of fluid (mostly water) each day. Drink throughout the day to keep up a steady production of urine.
  • Check your hydration by examining the color of your urine. Darker urine generally indicates dehydration.

2. Follow Your Care Plan


  • Ignore or wander away from your care team’s advice and recommendations.


  • Work with a catheter expert at your home while you’re learning. They can help you find the best position for insertion and show you how to use catheters effectively.
  • Maintain your cathing schedule. Pressure from an overfull bladder can permanently weaken the organ, damage your kidneys and increase your risk of leaks and infection.
  • Order and use the right supplies. Talk to your care team if you think you might need a different size or type of product—don’t use supplies ordered for someone else.

3. Keep Up with Cleanliness


  • Ignore sources of bacteria and germs.


  • Always wash your hands thoroughly before and after self-cathing. Hand sanitizer is okay if soap and water aren’t available.
  • Never reuse a disposable cather, even if you don’t void any urine. Once the package is opened, consider it used.
  • If you use a drainage bag, clean it thoroughly every time you empty it.
  • 4. Take your Time


  • Rush the process of finding a good hydration routine.


  • Be patient with yourself. It can take a few days or weeks to build a comfortable routine.
  • Lubricate your catheter correctly. Pre-lubed hydrophilic catheters are a great option for reducing friction and trauma.
  • Let your bladder do the work. Breathe deep to relax your muscles, and try a cough to get things going.
  • Empty your bladder fully. When you’re done, remove the catheter slowly to ensure that all the urine has been drained.

5. Listen to your body


  • Ignore warning signs.


  • Know the symptoms of a urinary tract or bladder infection. Minor discomfort can quickly turn into a medical emergency.
  • Don’t force it—talk with your care team about trying a different product if the initial products you try don’t work as expected.
  • Notice changes in your body. If your urine color gets darker or you develop symptoms like a fever, talk with your care team right away.

Getting the hang of self-cathing takes time. When you have questions, get an expert on the phone. You deserve honest, helpful answers and compassionate guidance so you can live your best life.

Experts are standing by to support all your supply needs. Fill out the form or call 866-897-8588.

Disclaimer: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For medical advice, please speak with your healthcare provider.


How Much Do You Know about Hydrophilic Catheters? Click here for more information

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