14 Dos and Don’ts of Self-Cathing

At 180 Medical, we want to make sure you have all the information you need to stay as healthy as possible, especially when it comes to your catheterization needs. If your doctor or nurse practitioner has prescribed a regimen of self-catheterization, you’re not alone. Many people all over the world use catheters every day to help them empty their bladder. All it takes is a little practice.

Here are some helpful tips:

dos and donts of self cathing


  1. Gather all your catheter supplies before beginning.

  2. Maintain a sterile environment for catheterization.

    If you’re away from home, we know that can be a little more difficult, since you can’t control how clean a public restroom is. Just be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before catheterization and/or put on gloves before beginning. You may also wish to use antiseptic wipes to clean the area before inserting the catheter. A kit of insertion supplies may further to make the procedure more sterile and prevent possible infections.
    washing hands

  3. Follow your prescribed self-catheterization schedule.

    When your healthcare professional prescribes catheters for you, they’ll let you know how many times per day you should catheterize. Be sure to stay close to the self-cathing schedule as instructed. If you get busy and miss your scheduled time, be sure to catheterize as soon as you’re able to do so.

  4. Use the right catheter product for your needs.

    180 Medical has a wide array of all the top brands and types of intermittent catheters, including straight catheters, coudé tipped catheters, hydrophilic catheter, closed system catheter kits, pediatric catheters for children, and more. Our highly-trained Product Specialists would love to help you find the catheter that works and feels best for you.

  5. Stay hydrated

    . Drinking plenty of water is good for your urinary system and your whole body.

  6. Make sure you are using your catheters correctly.

    . Are you wondering, “How do I use catheters?” 180 Medical has helpful online instructions for how to cath. Plus, we can also provide full-color, step-by-step catheter instructions in booklets and DVDs with your order.

  7. Ask if your insurance plan covers catheter supplies

    . 180 Medical is in-network with thousands of health insurance plans, including Medicare, state Medicaid plans, and a continually growing number of private insurance plans such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare, and more. Wondering if we’re in-network with your insurance plan? Give us a call or send us a message. We can verify your insurance plan and find out which catheter products are covered. Plus, we’ll find out how many catheters you can get per month based on your plan and your doctor’s prescription.


  1. Don’t reuse catheters

    . The FDA considers intermittent catheters as single-use medical devices. Additionally, many studies have shown that sterile use, which is using a catheter one time and then throwing it away, may reduce the risk of urinary tract infections. Most major insurance companies today, including Medicare, will cover enough intermittent urinary catheters for sterile use. This is because they know that reusing catheters often leads to infections, which can end up costing insurance companies more money.

  2. Don’t use someone else’s catheter supplies.

    Sometimes, people call us in situations where their friend or family member no longer needs to use their catheters, and they have a few left over which they offered to give away. It’s risky to use a catheter that is prescribed for someone else because everyone’s body is different. For instance, some people require a coudé tip to bypass urethral strictures, when a straight tip catheter just won’t do. There are different lengths and French sizes to consider as well. When in doubt, consult your healthcare professional.

  3. Don’t use petroleum jelly to lubricate your catheter

    . It’s best to use sterile water-soluble lubrication to lessen the chances of infection and make the catheterization experience more comfortable.

  4. When using a hydrophilic catheter, don’t forget to burst the included water packet.

    You need a good amount of lubrication on your catheter to make sure it will not cause friction in your urethra as you self-catheterize. By popping the water sachet included with your hydrophilic catheter, the water activates the bonded lubrication, making the tube slippery and ready to use.

  5. Don’t forget to bring your catheter supplies with you wherever you go

    . For more information on catheterizing in public restrooms, go here for a detailed blog by an actual catheter-user.

  6. Don’t ignore the signs of a urinary tract infection.

    What are the symptoms of a UTI? Fever, chills, aching in the lower back, cloudy or smelly urine, and burning sensations. See your doctor at the first sign of a urinary tract infection. They can run tests and take cultures so they can treat your UTI quickly and properly before it worsens or travels to your kidneys.

  7. Lastly, don’t worry too much.

    Remember that many thousands of people use catheters every single day. As you continue to practice using your catheters, it will get easier. Eventually, you’ll be a seasoned pro!

180 Medical has provided superior, compassionate service and quality catheter and ostomy supplies to customers for years. Give us a call or contact us on live chat to see why so many choose and stay with us for their much-needed supplies.

Disclaimer: Please note that this is intended to provide a general understanding of self-catheterization. It should not be used in place of a visit, call, or consultation with a physician or other healthcare provider.

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About the Author
Jessica is the Senior Marketing Specialist at 180 Medical. She's been a part of the 180 family for over 11 years. Her favorite parts of working at 180 Medical are our values of compassion and integrity and the positive impact we help make on peoples' lives.

She loves writing, creating art, cooking, gardening, and spending time with her fiancé and their 3 dogs.