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In this weeks Topic and in advance of our Catheter Clinic next Tuesday 24th, here is Part 1 of some great information about Intermittent Self Catheterisation and how the Clinic can help

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Intermittent Self Catheterisation


Intermittent Self Catheterisation is passing a small tube, called a catheter, into the bladder, to allow the urine to flow out of the bladder. The catheter, which is soaked in normal cold tap water for 30 seconds to activate the special coating, is easy to use, and does not cause any damage to your bladder or urethra, even if this is performed over a long period of time.


Why do I have to perform ISC?

The reasons why your bladder cannot empty properly, and you may have to perform ISC are:

  • The result of an operation on the prostate/pelvis/bladder.
  • Bladder muscles that are too loose.
  • Communication problems between the valve and the brain.
  • Nerve damage caused by spinal injury or disease.
  • A muscle valve that is too tight.


Urine must not be left in the bladder; if it remains there for too long, it can become stale and cause infection hence the reason for Intermittent Self Catheterisation on some occasions.


Advantages of ISC?

  • Improve your quality of life by giving you the confidence to take part in normal activities.
  • If you have experienced episodes of incontinence in the past, ISC can help to reduce this problem.
  • Reduces the risk of bladder and kidney infections caused by urine staying inside you for too long.
  • You have control over your bladder, which results in improved lifestyle.
  • Convenient way to ensure complete and regular bladder emptying. There is no need for other appliances e.g. pads, drainage bags.

How to prepare and use the catheter

The Urology department team in the hospital where you first get your catheter will show you how to fit your catheter. However, if you would like a guide on using, email me at and I can email you best practice guidelines.


What should I do if I can’t insert the catheter?

If the catheter is difficult to insert, this is usually because you are not relaxed. If you cough a couple of times this helps the muscles relax. If you have tried and failed, don’t worry or panic, and don’t try again immediately. Have a warm bath and try to relax before attempting to insert the catheter again. If you still cannot insert the catheter, seek medical advice.


What should I do if I can’t remove the catheter?

Try to stay calm and don’t panic. Try to relax for 5 –10 minutes before trying again or try the same relaxation methods as above. If you cannot remove the catheter, seek medical advice.


How often should I catheterise myself?

This can vary according to:

  • Your type of bladder problem.
  • Medication you are taking.
  • The amount of fluid you drink.


Some people may need to perform Intermittent Self Catheterisation once a day, whilst others may need to repeat it 3 or 4 times daily. This is something you can discuss with the clinical nurse specialist.


Where do I get the catheters from?

Your clinical nurse specialist will give you a small supply of catheters at your first visit. You will need to make an appointment to see your GP to arrange prescriptions for a further supply. You can bring this prescription to your local pharmacy who will provide you with the catheters recommended and prescribed for you.


Traveling abroad

Not all types of catheters are available in all countries. Pack as many catheters as you will need for the duration of your trip. To avoid any problems with customs, ask your GP for a written statement saying the catheters are necessary for medical reasons, and are for your personal use. If you are worried about the quality of the water in some countries, it is best to be on the safe side, and use bottled water.


General Advice

If a few specks of blood appear when removing the catheter, don’t worry. This sometimes happens and should clear up in a few days. If the bleeding continues, or can be seen every time you pass urine, you should contact your GP.


The following symptoms may indicate urine infection:

  • Shivering
  • High temperature
  • Fever
  • Cloudy and/or smelly urine


If you show the above urine infection signs, you should drink extra fluids and contact your GP immediately. You will need to drink plenty of fluids, at least 6-8 cups per day, whilst you are catheterising yourself. Try to reduce your intake of tea and coffee, as these can irritate your bladder, and increase the amount of water you drink. A glass of cranberry juice can help prevent urine infections.


It is important that you avoid becoming constipated. Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables. If you do become constipated, consult your GP, as this may interfere when you are performing ISC.


Free of Charge Catheter Care Clinic

Whelehans Pharmacy host a Catheter Care Clinic at Whelehans Pharmacy Pearse St, Mullingar on Tuesday September 24th. This clinic is free of charge. The clinic will be run by Debbie Rooney, Coloplast Clinical Nurse Continence Specialist. Book your free place by calling Whelehans at 04493 34591, emailing or PM Whelehans on Facebook. If experiencing issues with your catheter or that of a loved one, book your free 45-minute private consultation. Bring your catheters with you for your consultation so the nurse can give you the best advice.

At the Catheter Clinic on Tuesday Sep 24th, you can expect 

  • One on one consultation with Urology Specialist Nurse
  • Advice and guidance on doing Intermittent Self catheterisation (ISC)
  • Advice on products and aids to help improve your ISC technique
  • Diet, lifestyle and mediation to reduce UTIs and improve quality of life. 


This clinic is ideal for those

  • Have continence queries
  • Experiencing issues managing their self-catheter
  • who care and assist people with managing and daily living with their catheters.


Thanks to the NHS and Coloplast for the information and support for this article

For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans, log on to or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore).

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