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Self-Catheterization Following Surgery: What You Need To Know



Having a surgical procedure done can be scary enough without the prospect of additional care once you return home. For some, there are additional precautions that will need to be taken in order to prevent complications following surgery, and if you have had bladder surgery this can mean self-catheterization. It can be frightening and intimidating to think of performing this procedure on yourself but it will really become second nature and is nothing to be worried about.

Why Catheterization is Necessary Following Bladder Surgery

Most patients will wake from their bladder surgery with a catheter in place, the need for this to remain once they go home—whether short-term or forever—will vary from patient to patient, according to Wise Geek. The process is undoubtedly easier for men as they can readily see and access the penis, where they will need to insert the catheter. Women, on the other hand generally will need to use a mirror to locate the urethra for a time, this should eventually become second nature, but will take some time to get used to.

The University of Wisconsin explains that catheterization is necessary in order to ensure that the bladder is fully drained for two reasons: one, to help you heal and two, to prevent any infections from forming within the urinary tract. As was previously stated, the length of time following surgery that you will need to do this will vary depending on your circumstances but while you are required to do so, you will cath each time after you urinate.

What You Will Need

The University of Wisconsin explains that in order to perform the catheterization on yourself you will need the plastic or rubber catheter, a water-soluble lubricant such as K-Y jelly, a plastic container for collecting the urine, antibacterial soap, and water (alternatively antiseptic wipes can be used), and, if needed, a mirror. It is extremely important that you remember hygiene during this process as you do not want to cause an infection when that is the main motivation behind the procedure in the first place, preventing infections.


–          Get all of your needed items

–          Urinate

–          Wash both your hands and your genital area, wiping from back to front only

–          Wet the catheter with tap water—if needed, add the lubricant to the catheter

–          Locate your urethra

–          Hold the catheter near the tip and ease it in, pushing it upwards into your bladder

–          Keep directing the catheter towards your bladder until urine starts to come out then insert one inch further

–          Wait for urine to stop flowing completely

–          Carefully remove the catheter

–          Wash the catheter thoroughly with antibacterial soap and water

–          Dry outside fully and place on a dry towel so inside can dry to prevent bacteria growth

–          Store catheter in clean container or bag