Ask a Catheter Nurse – Your IC Questions Answered

For catheter week we asked our community what they needed to know about intermittent self catheters and our catheter nurse answered them!

At Bladder and Bowel Community Home Delivery service, as well as delivering your catheter needs directly to your door, we also have trained catheter nurses who are able to help guide you through what can be a tricky and overwhelming time.

Catheter Nurse

Who needs to use an intermittent catheter?

“People use an intermittent catheter when they have bladder capacity but cannot empty their bladder fully or even at all.”

 What are the different types of intermittent catheter and how do you know which one to use?

“There are many different types of catheters within the drug tariff that can be obtained on prescription. It is best to always discuss this with a clinician to support you making the right choice. There are different types of coatings, materials, lengths and sizes and it is important the choice is right for you.”

 How do I know what size catheter is the correct one for me?

“We always say small is beautiful unless you are using the catheter for a different reason to just emptying the bladder. Catheter diameters are measured in charriere and each measure represents 1/3 of a mm. The norm is for females to use a 10ch or 12ch and males to use a 12ch or 14ch.”

I’m scared to try intermittent catheterisation as I’m worried about the pain of inserting a catheter. How do I get over this?

“ISC is usually relatively painless as the urethra does not have pain sensation. It can be uncomfortable when entering the bladder or urethral opening. This can feel like a sting. The coating of the catheter should help prevent this so the catheter can be inserted smoothly. The key also is to relax and not tense the muscles. You can use lubricating gel with a local anaesthetic if required.”

 I sometimes experience bleeding after using a catheter. Is this common?

“If you experience bleeding after catheterisation it is important you report this to your clinician – urology nurse, consultant or GP. Blood can be a sign of trauma, infection or something in your bladder bleeding. It may need further investigation, medication e.g antibiotics, a change of catheter type or review your ISC technique.”

I find it difficult to remove a catheter after I’ve inserted it, causing pain. How can I alleviate this?

“You can seek advice from a clinician and it may be that you need to review your technique, your catheter type and size and also your ability to stay relaxed whilst catheterising. It may be also you have to review how often you are doing ISC to see if too much is being drained at one time reducing the efficacy of the catheter coating.”

Is it safe to perform bladder washes to help prevent UTI’s?

“If UTIs are an issue then a bladder wash may be part of the answer but there are a few things that need to be investigated first which can help. Seek advice from a clinician and they will look at fluid intake, bowel management, general advice with regard to hygiene and may refer you for a cystoscopy.”

 I find it difficult to insert the catheter far enough into my bladder to release the urine. Do you have any tips?

“Review your technique with a clinician and maybe the catheter you are using.”

 I find that I’m constantly getting urinary infections, is there a way to prevent this?

“Discuss this with a clinician. Fluid intake and bowel management can have an impact but there may be other reasons.”

How many times a day should you self catheterise?

“This depends on the reason you do ISC and the ability of your bladder to empty, it can be between 1-6 times per day depending on function of bladder and residual urine.”

 I’m still experiencing bladder accidents even though I catheterise, why is this?

“It may be that you need to change your frequency of catheterising, review your technique and catheter that you use, reassess your residual volume and my require medication to support your ISC. Speak to a clinician to reassess your treatment plan.”

 Is it possible to insert the catheter into the wrong area and cause damage?

“This is uncommon. Females are more likely to insert in the wrong place and if this happens then the catheter should be disposed of and a clean one used.”

 How do you know when the catheter is in your bladder?

“Urine should drain when the catheter is in your bladder fully and the holes or eyelets in the catheter can drain.”

 Can you reuse ISC catheters?

“Most ISC are once only but there are some catheters that can be reused. You need to follow the manufacturer’s usage guide.”

 Is it dangerous to miss a catheterisation and wait until later?

“Not emptying your bladder fully can lead to a back pressure on your kidneys. It is important to follow the treatment plan that your clinician has done with you.”

How do you manage self catheterisation when you’re on your period?

Hygiene requirements remain the same and the urethral opening is not affected by menstruation

I don’t have very good dexterity, are there any devices I can use to make this easier?

Yes there are many different catheters that can be used with non-touch techniques in the design that can make it easier to do ISC. There are also aids that can support you. Speak with your clinician to discuss

Further Information

Navigating life with a catheter can feel overwhelming at times, which is why the Bladder and Bowel Community have launched a Catheter Care guide to help answer those tricky answers that you may have. Follow the conversation on Social Media with #CatheterWeek and get involved with any comments you may have.

Download your Catheter Care Guide here.

If you use intermittent catheters, you may benefit from trying different types as some will suit you more than others. Lo Fric Elle Catheters are a type of self catheter designed for the female body, the discreet, slim design with a unique handle improves control, grip and hygiene.

To order your FREE sample, click here.