Learning the correct way to perform intermittent self-catheterization gives you freedom when emptying your bladder. In this guide, we cover the basics of the female urinary system and offer step-by-step instructions on how to insert an intermittent catheter by yourself.
How the female bladder and urinary system work
When the bladder and its supporting systems and functions work together as they should, you would feel the urge to go to the toilet when the bladder is about half-full. Passing the urine would then be a controlled and voluntary activity.
The bladder is part of the urinary tract. The upper tract consists of the two kidneys, which lie in the lower back and are attached to the bladder by narrow tubes called ureters. Urine is produced in the kidneys and flows from the kidneys into the bladder via the ureters.
The bladder is located in the lower urinary tract with the urethral sphincters (closing muscles) and the urethra (the tube that leads urine from the bladder to the outside opening). The bladder stores urine until the urethra carries it out of the body. This flow, from the bladder to the urethra, is controlled by the urethral sphincters, which open and close the bladder outlet. The sphincters are supported by the pelvic floor, which holds up the organs placed in the lower part of your body – almost like a sling.
- Wash your hands well with soap and water (or a moist towelette) and dry them.
- Position yourself comfortably with thighs spread apart. For many women, it is preferred to sit on the toilet or in a chair across from the toilet.
- With one hand, separate the labia and wash from front to back with soap and water or a moist towelette.
- If using an uncoated (not lubricated) catheter, use water soluble lubricant and lubricate it from the tip and first 2 inches of the catheter.
- If using a lubricated (hydrophilic) catheter it will be ready to use. If using a coated, (lubricated/ hydrophilic) catheter it will be ready to use.
- Slowly and gently insert the catheter into the urethra until the urine begins to flow (approximately 1-1½”). Then insert the catheter about 1″ further and hold it there until urine stops flowing.
- When urine stops, slowly begin to withdraw the catheter. It is recommended that you slightly rotate the catheter as you withdraw and stop each time more urine drains out. If you are using a curved tip catheter (coudé), do not rotate.
- Stop briefly each time more urine drains out. Move a little and straighten yourself up to make sure the bladder is completely empty.
- Throw away the catheter after using it (as household waste) and wash your hands once more.
Important safety information
Users performing intermittent catheterization should follow the advice of their health care provider. Before using the device, carefully read the product labels and information accompanying the device including the instructions for use which contain additional safety information. The SpeediCath catheter is for single-use only; discard it after use. If you experience symptoms of a urinary tract infection or are unable to pass the catheter into the bladder, contact your healthcare professional. The risk information provided here is not comprehensive. To learn more, talk to your healthcare provider.
A note about our preferred female catheter:
Comfort’s preferred catheters are SpeediCath catheters. SpeediCath is the instantly ready to use catheter, with a simple design for everyday cathing, designed to address comfort and minimize the risk of urethral damage. The unique hydrophilic coating and the polished eyelets ensure smooth catheterization both during insertion and withdrawal.
Comfort Medical provides gentle catheters with smooth, fire-polished eyelets to cut down on the instance of urethral trauma that can cause the formation of scar tissue or strictures.