Self-Catheterization: Practice Makes Perfect
Millions of Americans use urinary catheter supplies at home to empty their bladders. It is not feasible, nor recommended, for many of these people to have a medical professional cath them every four hours. Imagine if you had to drive to the doctor every time you had to use the bathroom! There are several teaching guides across the internet on how to self-catheterize, or how to insert a catheter into your own urethra in order to empty your bladder. One professional guide is here and I will break it down for you. If you want to speak to someone in person, give us a call at 855-879-2366.
For men and women, when you are inserting a catheter yourself, you are putting a foreign object into your body. If you do not keep your medical supplies, your body, and surrounding area clean while you cath, you run the risk of introducing bacteria into your urinary tract. This can cause infections that are painful and require strong antibiotics to treat. Avoid that at all costs by doing a few simple steps.
• Wash your hands with hot, soapy water. Don't just use hand sanitizer if a sink and soap are available. Sing the birthday song to make sure you wash long enough. Dry your hands and then use a new, clean paper towel to open the bathroom stall door, lock it, etc. After you wash your hands you don't want to accidentally contaminate them again!
• Only use clean catheters. NEVER reuse a catheter. Catheters are disposable for a reason. Once a sterile catheter has left your body, it is contaminated and should never be reinserted. We recommend pre-lubricated, or closed system catheters so you don't have to use a separate lubricant for your catheter. The lubricants can be messy while you are trying to keep things clean. I also recommend wiping the head of the penis or the opening of the vulva with an alcohol wipe to clean the area so you don't inadvertently push bacteria into the urethra when you cath.
• If you have a penis, lift it flat against your body and slide the catheter into the urethral hole. (Men only have one opening.) If you have a vagina, you will need to use a hand mirror to find the urethral hole above the larger vaginal opening. Gently slide the catheter in. You may need to apply some pressure but NEVER force a catheter in. Urethras, like bodies, come in all shapes and sizes. If a straight catheter will not insert, you need to notify your doctor immediately. You might need a Coude style catheter but this is up to your doctor.
• When the catheter reaches the bladder, urine will immediately flow. Be sure you are standing over a toilet or urinal, or that you have a container ready to catch the urine. Slowly withdrawal the catheter when the urine stops flowing to ensure complete drainage. Throw all of your medical supplies away in a trash bag and wash your hands again.
Like all procedures, catheterization requires practice and patience. I recommend practicing at home many times before catheterizing in a public bathroom. You will need to be relaxed and calm to ensure you are doing this important practice safely and correctly.
If you have more questions, give us a call at 855-879-2366.
SuLauren Wilson is the founder of Finnegan Medical Supply, an online medical supply store based in Little Rock, Ark. She blogs regularly on issues affecting the company’s patients. Although, she has many years of experience in the healthcare industry, she is not a licensed medical professional, and the content of her posts should not be considered medical advice.