What is Intermittent Catheterization for Men?


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After prostate cancer surgery, it is quite common for patients to use catheters for men during the recovery process. Typically, the use of a catheter is temporary. In these circumstances, the doctor will insert the catheter, and it will remain in place until the doctor removes it. But some men may need to use a catheter to void the bladder on a long-term basis. They will need to use intermittent catheterization (IC) at regular intervals throughout the day.

Why use intermittent catheterization?

Surgery can necessitate the use of intermittent catheterization, but so can certain medical conditions. Examples include urinary retention, or the inability to empty the bladder, and urinary incontinence, or the leakage of urine. Dementia, spinal cord injuries, and multiple sclerosis may also necessitate the use of catheters for men.

When to use a catheter for men 

Talk to your doctor about a proper voiding schedule for you. You may only need to use an intermittent catheter sometimes, or you may need to use it regularly throughout the day. The catheterization schedule will also depend on your fluid intake. Most people will need to void their bladders every four to six hours. You should be voiding between 400 to 600 milliliters each time.

It’s very important not to wait to use a catheter for too long, because this can cause you to become overdistended.

What is Overdistended

Being overdistended means that there is too much urine in your bladder. Some of the signs of this condition include chills, sweating, and looking flushed or pale. You might also experience a headache, feel restless, or have cold fingers, toes, arms, or legs. You may also notice that your lower abdomen has a bloated appearance. If you notice any of these signs, catheterize right away.

Preparation for catheterization

Collect everything you need, including the catheter, water-based lubricant, and latex gloves. Other equipment to have on hand includes cleaning supplies and a container to hold the urine.

Wash your hands well with soap and water. Wear latex gloves. If you are not circumcised, pull back the foreskin and wash the area well with soap and water. Lubricate a few inches of the end of the catheter and get into a comfortable position.

Using an intermittent catheter

Hold your penis at about a 60 to 75 degree angle. If you are not circumcised, keep the foreskin pulled back. Slowly, gently slide the tip of the intermittent catheter into the opening in your penis. Continue to slide the catheter in until urine begins to flow, or about 6 to 8 inches. Push the catheter in about 1 to 2 inches further to establish a steady stream of urine.

If you encounter resistance while inserting the catheter, pause briefly before gently trying again. If you still have a problem, do not attempt to force the catheter through the urethra. Instead, call your doctor.

After the urine stops, press on your abdomen to encourage complete emptying of the bladder. Remove the catheter slowly and take off your gloves. Wash your hands thoroughly. Before flushing the urine, make a note of the amount of urine in the container. If it appears cloudy, has an odd odor, or is otherwise abnormal, consult your doctor.

Cleaning the intermittent catheter

Place the catheter in an antiseptic solution or wash it thoroughly with soap and water. You may use a syringe to force soapy water through the tube. Rinse it thoroughly. Place the catheter on a clean, dry towel. Fold the towel in half and hang it on a rack to dry. Place the catheter in a sterile plastic bag once it is dry.


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