Discharge Instructions: Self Catheterization for Women

Discharge Instructions: Self Catheterization for Women

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Discharge Instructions: Self-Catheterization for Women

Your doctor has prescribed self-catheterization for you because you are having trouble urinating naturally. This problem can be caused by injury, disease, infection, recent surgery (especially urinary incontinence or prolapse procedures) hysterectomy, or other conditions.

Many people urinate by self-catheterization (also called intermittent catheterization). Self-catheterization simply means inserting a clean catheter (a thin, flexible tube) into the bladder to empty urine. This helps you empty your bladder when it won’t empty by itself or empty all the way. You were shown in the hospital how to do this procedure. The steps below should help you remember how to do it properly.

Woman lubricating the end of the catheter

Woman spreading the labia to reveal the urethra and vaginal opening, She is inserting the catheter

Woman inserting catheter

Gather your supplies

You will need the following:

  • Soap and warm water or a moist towelette

  • Clean catheter

  • Water-soluble lubricating jelly (not petroleum jelly)

  • Mirror

  • Toilet or basin

Get ready

  • Wash your hands and your genital area. Use warm soapy water. You can also use a moist towelette. As always, wash from front to back.

  • Lubricate the catheter with the water-soluble lubricating jelly.

    • Lubricate 2 to 4 inches of the catheter tip.

    • Place the other end of the catheter over the toilet or basin.

Empty your bladder

  • Spread the labia (the lips or folds at the opening of your vagina). Use a mirror or your index finger to find the urethra (urinary tract opening).

  • Slowly insert the catheter into your urethra. If it doesn’t go in, take a deep breath and bear down as if to trying to urinate.

  • If you feel a sharp pain, remove the catheter and try again.

  • Empty your bladder.

    • When the urine starts to flow, stop inserting the catheter.

    • When the urine stops flowing, slowly remove the catheter.

Clean up

  • Wash the catheter in mild soap and water.

  • Rinse the catheter well.

  • Run water through the catheter. Then let it air-dry.

  • Wash your hands. If you used a basin, wash it out.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.

When to seek medical care



Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher, or chills

  • Burning in the urinary tract or pubic area

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Aching in the lower back

  • Sediment or mucus in the urine

  • Cloudy urine

  • Bloody (pink or red) or foul-smelling urine