What is self-catheterization?

Self-catheterization is a way to empty your bladder when you have difficulty urinating. As the name suggests, you perform the procedure yourself.

Self-catheterization, also called clean intermittent catheterization (CIC) or intermittent self -catheterization (ISC), involves inserting a thin, hollow tube called a catheter into the bladder through the urethra (the tube from which the urine exits your body). Urine drains out of the catheter into a toilet or container. When your bladder is empty, you slip out (remove) the catheter. You repeat these steps at regular intervals (intermittently) several times a day.

What are the types of urinary catheterization?

There are several ways to use a catheter to empty the bladder:

  • Indwelling: A sterile tube called a Foley catheter stays in the bladder. The tube is inserted through the urethra, or in some cases directly into the bladder from the lower abdomen (supra-pubic catheter). The catheter attaches to a drainage bag that collects urine throughout the day and night. A balloon in the tip of the catheter keeps the catheter from slipping out of the bladder. Depending on your mobility and situation, the drainage bag may attach to a bed, your leg, or clothes.
  • Condom: Males can slip a condom-like device over the penis. The device has a tube that drains urine into a bag.
  • Self (clean intermittent): You or a caregiver insert a catheter into the bladder at regular intervals throughout the day. Urine drains through the catheter into a toilet, collection bag or container.

Who might need self-catheterization?

Certain health problems can make it difficult to empty your bladder. Bladder control issues that could require a catheter are more likely if you have:

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