Clean intermittent self-catheterization

For some people it takes time for their bladder to start working normally after surgery. During this time, you must make sure your bladder does not become too full. To help prevent this your doctor has ordered clean intermittent self-catheterization.

What is it?

You will place a small plastic tube, called a catheter, into your bladder to drain the urine. This is done throughout the day to keep the bladder from being overfilled. It only takes a few minutes. You will be taught how often you should urinate and catheterize during the day.


Before you start, make sure you have:

  • Catheter
  • Lubricant (water based, no petroleum jelly or Vaseline®)
  • Basin or container to collect urine
  • A washcloth
  • A clean plastic bag or paper towel
  • Flow sheet to write down how much you drain


  1. Gather your supplies.
  2. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  3. With one hand, wash the skin folds around your vagina. Wipe from front to back with a damp washcloth.
  4. Try to urinate into the container. Record the amount on your flow sheet. Empty the container.
  5. Put a small amount of lubricant on the tip of the catheter (if you want).
  6. Find your clitoris. Use it as a landmark. The urethra is just below it.
  7. Put the catheter in. Stop pushing when urine starts to flow. Hold it in place until the flow stops.
  8. Remove the catheter slowly.
  9. Wash the catheter with warm water. Put it on a washcloth, paper towel, or in a clean plastic bag.
  10. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  11. Write the amount of urine you emptied on the flow sheet.

How often should I void or catheterize?

Your doctor will have given you information in the following format:

  • Void ___ times each day (about every ___ hours).
  • Catheterize yourself every ___ hours.


Drink your normal amount of fluids each day (6 to 8 glasses)

Last reviewed: 
May 2020

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