Go with the Flow – Intermittent Catheterisation Relaxation Tips

If you are new to intermittent catheterisation, you may find the idea of catheter insertion a bit unnerving. Fortunately, there are some simple tips that can make the process easier.

Learn how to relax during self-catheterisation.

Do you have a spinal cord injury or other medical condition that has made it difficult or impossible to empty your bladder naturally? Will you need to use an intermittent catheter (IC)? If so, a nurse, specialist, or other healthcare provider has likely walked you through the all of the necessary steps to perform the procedure properly at home.

When you begin catheterising on your own, it’s natural to feel hesitant and uncomfortable. Sometimes that can lead to stress and anxiety, which may make catheter insertion more difficult. The good news is that there are simple things you can do to relax, make insertion easier, and gain confidence.

Intermittent catheter insertion tips

Here are a few things you can do to prepare for self-catheterisation and help things go more smoothly:

  • Take time to prepare. Not having everything you need can add to your stress, so make sure to have all of your supplies handy. For women, having a mirror to locate your urethra opening/meatus may be helpful. Also, select a comfortable and soothing environment to perform the self-catheterisation procedure.
  • Find the best position. This may take some trial and error. If you have a spinal cord injury, the best spot may be in your wheelchair. Depending on your limitations, sitting or standing over the toilet, lying on the bed, or elevating one leg slightly on a stool are other options.
  • Take deep breaths and stay calm during insertion. Tensing up can make insertion more difficult. Men in particular may find it challenging to insert the catheter past the prostate or through tense sphincter muscles. Take your time and focus on deep breathing. Try coughing slightly as you insert the catheter.
  • Don’t force it. If you have difficulty passing the catheter into your bladder, never force it because you could cause injury to your urethra. If you cannot pass the catheter after three or four gentle tries, seek medical attention.

Be patient with yourself, and seek help if you need it

Although catheter insertion may be a new and intimidating experience, with time, you’ll learn to relax and be more comfortable. Self-catheterisation is a skill that you’ll learn to do better and faster every day — just as you’ve done with other skills. With every successful catheter insertion, you’ll gain greater confidence.

Also, it’s important to know that many of today’s intermittent catheters include coatings and other innovations that make insertion, draining, and removal easy and trouble-free.

However, if you continue to have difficulty inserting your catheter — even after following your instructions, using the product guide for use, and trying some of these techniques — be sure to ask your healthcare professional for additional assistance.