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Intermittent Catheters What are they, Why are they Used and How to Use them


There are many reasons someone may find themselves in need of a catheter and there is more than one type of catheter. Those who are hospitalized will find themselves needing an indwelling catheter to assist the bladder in emptying the urine. These catheters have been used for more than 3500 years to help drain the bladder, but there are couple different varieties. Some are placed inside the bladder and stay, while others are only inserted when the bladder must be emptied. These are called intermittent catheters and they are used for a variety of health conditions and chosen over indwelling catheters for a few different reasons. Read below to see why these catheters are chosen and why they are better choices for certain health conditions.


There are a variety of reasons that could lead to the use of an intermittent catheter in an individual. Sometimes the bladder is not able to open enough to allow a continuous flow of urine to exit. Sometimes the bladder doesn’t contract when releasing the urine, which results in not all of the urine being expelled. Certain medical procedures can interfere with the passing of urine or the contracting of the bladder in order to expel all urine. If this is the case, many people will be taught how to use a intermittent catheter until the bladder is fully healed.

Ease of Use

The use of an intermittent catheters is simple enough that even children as young as seven or eight can successfully use along side other urological supplies. The process of self catherization is something that can be learned so that routine self procedures are not troublesome. With little instruction users can feel confident in their ability to catheterize themselves using intermittent catheters.


The safety of an intermittent catheter is far more superior compared to long term catheters. Complications from long term catheters include infections, blockages, leaking and spasms. The likelihood of experiencing these complications is significantly reduced with intermittent catheters since they are relatively easy and simple to use once the procedure is learned. This significantly reduces the chances of any injury to the bladder.


The use of an intermittent catheter is extremely effective compared with other procedures. For those who are unable to empty their bladder on their own, these catheters provide a solution that works better compared to long term continuously draining catheter. Having a removable catheter can help lead to a more active lifestyle, where as having a continuous draining catheter can harbor certain everyday movements and limit some daily activities for some.

Tips for Use

Follow these tips to help ensure reduce possible infections connected with using your intermittent catheter. Always wash your hands before handling the catheter. Wash with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Wash the genital areas before inserting the catheter. This helps prevent any bacteria from entering the bladder possibly causing a UTI. You should always use a new catheter each time. You should not reuse your catheters. Insurance covers new catheters for each catherization however you should check to see the exact amount of catheters provided, because more may need to be purchased out of pocket.

As you can see intermittent catheters are beneficial for a variety of reasons and when used properly can be easier and more efficient than indwelling catheters. Talk with your doctor if you think that you could benefit from an intermittent catheter compared with other options. You may find that while this type may seem scary at first, it is actually cleaner, easier to deal with and gives you more freedom than traditional indwelling catheters do. Together you and your doctor can decide the best course of treatment that you are happy with and your doctor feels comfortable with.

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