Getting Started With Self-Catheterization

If you have a medical condition or injury that damaged the nerves to your bladder, you may need to use a catheter so you can pass urine properly. Your doctor might insert a permanent catheter for you to wear, but it's also possible you'll have to insert a catheter yourself a few times a day to drain your bladder. Although the thought of inserting a catheter yourself at home may sound daunting, it's actually an easy process once you've had some practice. Here is a quick look at buying and using catheters at home.

Start With A Prescription

You can buy catheters without a prescription, but there are so many choices available that it is best to start with some direction from your doctor. He or she can recommend the size, style, and material that best suits your medical condition. For instance, some catheters are made of latex and you may need to avoid those if you have allergies. Plus, in order to get coverage from your insurance company, you'll probably need a doctor's prescription for the catheters.

Stock Up On Supplies

If you're not able to empty your bladder on your own, you want to make sure you have ample supplies on hand at all times. If you run out of catheters and are forced to hold urine longer than you should, you can cause damage to your bladder or get an infection. Therefore, once you know the size and type of catheters you need, you want to buy supplies for a week or month at a time and refill your stock before your current supplies run low. Think of them just as you would prescription medication. You don't want to run out. In addition to the catheters, you'll also need other supplies.

Some catheters come already lubricated, but if yours don't, you'll also need a supply of medical lubricant so you can insert the catheter without friction. You'll also need wipes to clean yourself first so you don't pass bacteria into your bladder. Gloves are not required, but you may want to wear them when you insert a catheter to help keep the catheter more sanitary, especially if you get urinary tract infections easily.

In addition to the catheters, you may also want a bag if you can't get to a toilet easily. This allows you to drain the urine into a bag for easy disposal. This is handy if you are bedridden or when you're traveling. The bags are also handy when you need to measure your output or collect a urine sample.

Understand Your Coverage

Insurance policies vary, so you want to understand how yours handles coverage for urological supplies. You'll probably be limited to a set number of catheters each month. You want to know this number in advance so you can plan on buying supplies out of pocket if you need to. It may be possible to clean and reuse catheters, but you have to buy the right kind, and they have to be cleaned properly. Because reusing them increases your risk of a urinary tract infection, you want to talk to your doctor about it first and learn the right way to clean a catheter.

Before you're expected to go home and put in a catheter by yourself, your doctor or nurse will explain how it's done and supervise as you do it yourself. This gives you a great opportunity to learn the procedure and understand the supplies you'll need and how to use them. Once you have the process down, you'll be able to drain your bladder completely several times a day whether you're at home or on the go, and this keeps you more comfortable and lowers your risk of frequent infections, so you feel better too.