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Self-Catheterization for Females

Your doctor has asked you to catheterize yourself. It should not hurt at all. It is a clean technique. This means you should do it in a clean environment. Begin by washing your hands and the area around your urethra with water and soap. Doing this before each catheterization will help keep infections to a minimum.

Equipment needed:

  • Catheter
  • Water-based lubricant, such as KY® Jelly
  • Water and soap
  • Alcohol-based hand cleaner (optional)
  • Paper towel
  • Mirror as needed
  • Collection container as needed

Steps to follow

  1. Gather your equipment.
  2. Wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand cleaner. Dry with a clean towel. 
  3. Clean the area around your urethra with soap and water.
  4. You can stand or sit.
  • A mirror is very useful if you can place it where you can see the area. The urethra is just in front of your vagina (see figure). If you use a toilet, someone else would have to hold the mirror.
  • If you do not use the toilet, you will need a container to catch the urine.
  • If you stand: spread your legs, or use a chair or the toilet to elevate one leg.
  • If you sit: Use a chair or bed or sit on the toilet seat. You can sit with one leg elevated or in a frog position. To use the frog position, bend your knees, place your feet together, and spread your knees apart.
  1. Insert catheter. Use any of the following techniques.
  • Sit or stand. Put a tissue wick the size of a junior tampon in your vagina. This will prevent you from putting the catheter into your vagina. Lubricate the catheter and hold it in your dominant hand. Spread the labia with your other hand. Insert the lubricated catheter into the urethra. Push the catheter in until urine begins to drain. Hold the catheter in place until no more urine is draining.
  • Sit or stand. Lubricate the catheter and hold it in your dominate hand. Put one finger on your non-dominant hand into your vagina. Spread the labia with your thumb and another finger on that hand. Insert the lubricated catheter into the urethra. Push the catheter in until urine begins to drain. Hold the catheter in place until no more urine is draining.
  • Sit or stand. Place a mirror so you can see your urethra and vagina. Lubricate the catheter and hold it in your dominant hand. Spread your labia with your non-dominant hand. Look for the urethra and insert the catheter in the urethra. Push the catheter in until urine begins to drain. Hold the catheter in place until no more urine is draining.
  1. When draining has stopped, slowly pull the catheter out. If you have used a tampon or tissue wick, remove it.
  2. Clean the catheter with soap and water. Rinse and dry it with a paper towel. Wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
  3. Store the catheter in a clean place covered with a paper towel or in a zip lock bag.
  4. If you have a situation where it would be difficult to reuse a catheter, speak to your nurse. There are supply options for you.
  5. Always carry an extra catheter. You may need one in an emergency.

If you have any problems or questions, please call the office at (646) 422-4399.

It is normal to have some irritation of the urethra after the catheterization. It is not unusual to see a little blood during or after it. Urine might turn light orange due to this blood, so drink some water. This will flush your bladder.