Common Mistakes Patients Make When Self-Catheterizing

Self-catheterization is a common practice for people with urinary incontinence or other conditions that affect the ability to urinate. This procedure is often performed by individuals with conditions that prevent them from fully emptying their bladder, such as multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, or urinary incontinence

While self-catheterization can provide a sense of independence and control over one’s own healthcare, it’s important to understand that it’s a medical procedure that requires careful attention to detail to avoid complications. In this article, we’ll discuss some common mistakes that patients make when self-catheterizing and offer tips on how to avoid them.


One of the most common mistakes that patients make when self-catheterizing is not properly cleaning the area around the urethra. This can lead to infection, which can be very serious and even life-threatening. To avoid this, it’s important to thoroughly clean the area around the urethra with soap and water before inserting the catheter. Be sure to rinse off all the soap and dry the area thoroughly before inserting the catheter.


Another mistake that patients often make is not using the correct size of catheter. If the catheter is too small, it can cause discomfort and difficulty in insertion. On the other hand, if the catheter is too large, it can cause damage to the urethra. It is important to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the correct size of catheter for your specific needs.


Some patients also make the mistake of not properly preparing the catheter before inserting it. This can lead to the catheter getting stuck or not working properly, which can be very frustrating and even dangerous. To avoid this, it’s important to carefully follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer of the catheter, and to make sure that the catheter is properly lubricated and ready for use before attempting to insert it.

Experiencing pain when inserting or removing your intermittent catheter?

It’s important to use plenty of lubrication on the catheter and the area around the urethra before inserting it.

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Another common mistake patients make is failing to properly position themselves during the procedure. It is important to sit on the toilet or a chair with a footstool, and to relax your pelvic muscles to make insertion easier. Some patients also find it helpful to take deep breaths and to use a mirror to guide the insertion of the catheter.


Finally, some patients do not properly dispose of the catheter. Do not flush the catheter down the toilet as this can cause blockages. You’ll want to discard the catheter and packaging in a trash receptacle.

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