Frequently Asked Questions on Intermittent Catheter


What are intermittent catheters?
Intermittent catheters are hollow tubes to drain urine from the bladder. Once the urine is drained out the catheter is removed. This is called intermittent self-catheterization (ISC). This is one at either regular intervals or as when required. However, it is more effective when done on a set schedule each day.
The objective of intermittent catherization is to completely empty the bladder and prevent any kind of urinary tract infections. Most catheters are disposable. However, some are designed that can be cleaned and reused.
There are three main types of intermittent catheters:
  • Plain catheters made of plastic. These are used with a special lubricant before insertion.
  • Coated catheters with a hydrophilic coating. The catheter is soaked in water for a short while before use. The water makes the coating become slippery so it is easy to insert.
  • Pre-lubricated catheters which are ready to use.
  • Who requires intermittent catheters?
    Intermittent catherization is required by people with neurological disorders, women who have undergone cetain gynecological surgeries, and anyone who is unable to properly empty the bladder. It can be for a short period of time or on an occasional basis.
    What is an intermittent catheter?

    Intermittent catheter is a device for emptying out the urinary bladder of an individual having trouble urinating on his own. An intermittent catheter is to be used only when the bladder has to be emptied out. Once done, then the catheter is removed. Hence, intermittent catheters do not remain within the body all the time but are inserted only when required.

    What are intermittent catheters made of?

    Intermittent catheters are generally made from polyvinyl chloride which is a kind of plastic. The stiffness of the material helps in smooth insertion. However, it is also flexible enough to manoeuvre around the bends within a male urethra.

    How do intermittent catheters work?

    A sterilized catheter is inserted into the urethra that connects the genitals to the bladder and then guided into the bladder. This allows the urine to flow through the catheter tube and into a collection bag. Once the bladder is empty, the catheter is removed.

    How to clean intermittent catheters?

    Keeping your catheter clean will ensure a healthy bladder and a urinary tract free from infections.  

    • Be hygienic and always wash your hands with soap and water before and after draining out the urinary bag.  
    • Ensure that the valve of the urinary bag does not come in contact with the toilet when draining out the urine. Keep the bag far above the toilet while draining.
    • Use an alcohol-soaked wipe to clean the drainage tube and valve and then close the valve.
    • Use warm, soapy water to clean the drainage bag and catheter tubing. You may also use a mixture of vinegar and water in the ratio of 1:3 to wash and rinse the device. Then allow it to air dry.