Clean intermittent catheterization - male; CIC - male; Self-intermittent catheterization
A urinary catheter tube drains urine from your bladder. You may need a catheter because you have urinary incontinence (leakage), urinary retention (not being able to urinate), prostate problems, or surgery that made it necessary.
Clean intermittent catheterization can be done using clean techniques.
Urine will drain through your catheter into the toilet or a special container. Your health care provider will show you how to use your catheter. After some practice, it will get easier.
Sometimes family members or other people you know such as a friend who is a nurse or medical assistant may be able to help you use your catheter.
Catheters and other supplies can be bought at medical supply stores. You will get a prescription for the right catheter for you. There are many different types and sizes. Other supplies may include towelettes and lubricant such as K-Y Jelly or Surgilube. Do not use Vaseline (petroleum jelly). Your provider can also submit a prescription to a mail order medical supply company to have the supplies and catheters delivered to your house.
Ask how often you should empty your bladder with your catheter. In most cases, it is every 4 to 6 hours, or 4 to 6 times a day.
Always empty your bladder first thing in the morning and just before you go to bed at night. You may need to empty your bladder more frequently if you have had more fluids to drink.
Avoid letting your bladder get too full. This increases your risk of infection, permanent kidney damage, or other complications.
Follow these steps to insert your catheter:
Once the catheter is in, urine will start to flow.
Some catheters are meant to be used only once. Many others can be re-used if cleaned appropriately. Most insurance companies will pay for you to use a sterile catheter for each use.
If you are reusing your catheter, you must clean it every day. Always make sure you are in a clean bathroom. Do not let the catheter touch any of the bathroom surfaces; not the toilet, wall, or floor.
Follow these steps:
Throw away the catheter when it becomes dry and brittle.
When away from your house, carry a separate plastic bag for storing used catheters. If possible, rinse the catheters before placing them in the bag. When you return home, follow the above steps to clean them thoroughly.
Contact your provider if:
Dauw CA, Wolf JS. Fundamentals of urinary tract drainage. In: Partin AW, Dmochowski RR, Kavoussi LR, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh-Wein Urology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 12.
Davis JE, Silverman MA. Urologic procedures. In: Roberts JR, Custalow CB, Thomsen TW, eds. Roberts and Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine and Acute Care. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 55.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 1/1/2023
Reviewed By: Kelly L. Stratton, MD, FACS, Associate Professor, Department of Urology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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