Why catheter routines are important

Why catheter routines are important

Inspiration for fitting catheterizations (IC) into your daily life

Emptying your bladder with an intermittent catheter can offer you the freedom to participate in activities that are important to you. The key is finding a way to make emptying your bladder with a catheter a part of your daily routine. Here is some advice that other intermittent catheter users have found useful when they had to find their way of fitting catheterization in to their daily lives.

Always remember that users performing self-catheterization should follow the advice of their physician.

Use a chart or set an alarm to remember

At first, many people like to use a chart or diary, which can be good visual cues when implementing a new routine. Charts are also helpful if your healthcare provider wants you to keep track of the amount of urine you pass. Other suggestions might include setting a watch or a phone alarm.

Using IC is the preferred treatment when you are not able to empty your bladder normally – this is to avoid residual urine in the bladder, which can lead to growth of bacteria or complications (including urinary tract infections). Many people   catheterize 4-6 times a day - or as often as prescribed by your health care provider – it all depends on your individual situation.

Usually it is recommended that you catheterize every 4-6 hours,

Usually it is recommended that you catheterize every 4-6 hours,

but you should follow the plan established by your healthcare provider if you are not able to urinate in the usual way (e.g. due to chronic urinary retention).

This is the average number of times that healthcare providers recommend you to use intermittent catheterization (if you are not able to urinate normally e.g. due to chronic urinary retention)

If you are completely dependent upon intermittent catheters to empty your bladder and catheterize less than prescribed by your healthcare provider you may experience:


Leakage might occur because the amount of urine in your bladder exceeds the bladder’s capacity to hold it. If you are experiencing this, make sure you are using IC as you have been instructed.  If leakage continues contact your healthcare provider to evaluate your individual situation.

Urinary tract infection:

If you do not empty (by intermittent catheterization) your bladder often or do not empty your bladder completely, the urine siting in the bladder becomes stagnant. Any bacteria in the urine may multiply, which may lead to an infection of your bladder or urinary tract.

Potential damage to your kidneys:

The increased pressure on your bladder can create a backflow of urine to your kidneys, which can lead to an infection or long-term damage to your kidneys. See how the bladder works in our Basic section.

if you are catheterizing more than 6 times per day and still have problems with urine leakage, you should consult your healthcare provider.


- You may not be draining your bladder fully with each catheterization
- You may be experiencing bladder irritability and bladder spasms
- You may have some other condition that should be evaluated by your health care provider.

Measure the amount of urine you passMeasure the amount of urine you pass

Make sure your bladder is fully emptied every time you catheterize. By catheterizing at regular intervals, you can keep your urine volumes in an acceptable range. Urine left in the bladder may lead to overgrowth of bacteria which may lead to a urinary tract infection.

The goal is to keep the catheterized urine at a volume (400-500 mL) which avoids overstretching the bladder and prevents urine leakage. Every once in a while, measure the amount of urine you empty. It should be no more than around 2 cups (400 mL). If you empty more than that, ask your healthcare provider if you should catheterize more often.

Go out and enjoy yourself – but still remember to make time to empty your bladder

Keeping your intermittent catheterization routine is just as important when you are out as it is when you are at home. Plan your day ahead, so your catheterization fits in with your other activities. When is it convenient for you to catheterize? Before visiting the museum? During the intermission at the theater? Read more tips about fitting catheterization into your social life here.

But always remember to empty your bladder completely regardless of where you are.

To make sure urine is removed from the base of your bladder, you need to remove the catheter slowly and pause if more urine is flowing out. Watch a video for further instruction on how to use different types of catheters.

These are general guidelines meant to help you with typical questions. You should follow the specific instructions provided by your healthcare provider and the intermittent catheterization solution you are using.

Sign up for Coloplast Care – for catheter users

Trying to avoid UTI’s

Trying to avoid UTI’s

Follow these advice and minimize your risk of urinary tract infections (UTI)

There are a number of precautions that might help you prevent recurring urinary tract infections.

Get enough fluids

Every person needs daily fluids to maintain their health- drinking 6-8 glasses of fluids each day is the usual recommended amount, but it is not for everyone. 

You should first consult with your healthcare provider to determine the amount that is best for you based on your individual medical condition(s). Beverages containing caffeine (cola, coffee, tea and some energy drinks) and artificial sweeteners are known bladder irritants and may need to be kept to a minimum.

Drinking lots of water dilutes the urine and flushes bacteria out of the bladder. If you regularly empty your bladder as directed by your healthcare provider, you may remove urine with potential bacteria each time you catheterize. Make sure you drain the bladder completely each time.

Maintain good personal hygiene

Always wash your hands thoroughly – especially before you use your intermittent catheter. Also, carefully clean around the urethral opening before inserting the catheter.

Bacteria from improper hand washing, or bacteria near the urethral opening, can be introduced into the urinary tract when using a catheter.

Regularly empty your bladder completely as prescribed by your healthcare provider

Maintaining your catheterization schedule may help in the prevention of urinary tract infections.

Staying on a regular schedule and emptying your bladder completely with intermittent catheterization, reduces the amount of urine sitting in the bladder and the time that urine is left to sit stagnant in your bladder Each time you catheterize you remove urine in the bladder along with any bacteria that may be present.  

Use a sterile catheter every time you catheterize

Use a new, sterile, well-lubricated (hydrophilic coated or pre-lubricated) catheter, time you catheterize to lessen friction as you insert and remove your catheter. The amount of catheters you are allowed each month under your insurance plan may vary according to your individual benefit under your healthcare plan.

A well-lubricated, (hydrophilic coated or pre-lubricated) catheter may make the process more comfortable and may lessen the friction during insertion and withdrawal of the catheter.



Every once in a while, measure the amount of urine you empty. The goal is to keep the catheterized urine at a volume (400ml) which avoids overstretching the bladder and prevents leaking. If you empty more than this amount, ask your healthcare provider if you need to use intermittent catheterization more often.

Other advice:

- Maintain a good bowel regime and avoid constipation.

- Some people may benefit from drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry extract tablets, but there is no clear proof of efficacy. Always ask your healthcare provider before you take any supplements to make sure it doesn’t interact with any of your medications.

- If you have recurring infections drink fluids as you have been directed,  but try to eliminate known bladder irritants such as caffeinated drinks (coffee, soft drinks and energy drinks as well as artificial sweeteners  to see if it helps as these items can cause irritation to the urethra. If you – despite all these precautions – still suffer from frequent UTI’s, talk to your healthcare provider. Women have a higher risk for UTI. Read the extra precautions for women.

If you – despite all these precautions – still suffer from frequent UTI’s, talk to your health care provider.

Sign up for Coloplast Care

Sign up for Coloplast Care


Sign up for Coloplast Care

Coloplast Care offers a helping hand whenever you need support. 
We provide free tips and tools to take control of issues related to continence care.

Sign up for Coloplast Care and receive:
- Personal relevant news, tips and stories on e-mail 
- Reliable advice online, whenever you need it
- Our team of Care specialists are available by phone
- Access to samples of  products

Sign up for Coloplast Care


Order your free samples

Thank you for your order

Your order is complete!

View desktop version