Frequently Asked Questions

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Intermittent Catheters

Intermittent catheterisation is a clean procedure which enables the bladder to be emptied on a regular basis giving you more freedom and control. Emptying the bladder fully will reduce the frequency of needing to pass urine, help prevent kidney damage and decrease the risk of developing a urinary tract infection. Intermittent catheterisation is easy to learn, can be carried out anywhere and can improve your quality of life.
There are many reasons why you may have been asked to carry out intermittent catheterisation, they are usually due to the bladder being unable to empty the urine naturally this may be:
  • Due to an enlarged prostate gland
  • Following surgery
  • A condition you were born with
  • Due to a muscular problem
  • A communication problem between your brain and the bladder or sphincter muscle
Relax, wait a couple of minutes and try again, coughing may help along with gently rotating the catheter on withdrawal.
Ensure you have inserted the catheter in far enough, the male urethra is approximately 20cm in length and often you need to pass more of the catheter than you think. Remove the catheter and check the eyelets are not blocked with any debris and then try again with a new catheter. Have a break and when re-trying relax, coughing may help when passing the catheter through the sphincter. If problems persist please contact your healthcare professional.
The frequency of passing a catheter will be dependent on whether you are able to pass some urine naturally and how much fluid you are drinking, your healthcare professional will advise you.

Intermittent catheterisation offers less risks than an indwelling catheter, however you may experience some of the following:

Discomfort The procedure may be uncomfortable when you start learning but it should not be painful. If you experience pain please consult your healthcare professional for advice.

Bleeding A little blood on the catheter is very common however if the bleeding becomes heavy, please contact your healthcare professional.

Infection If you start feeling unwell and your urine becomes cloudy or smelly; you may have a urine infection, contact your GP or healthcare professional.

Important It is important to ensure you drink plenty of fluids and avoid becoming constipated.

Meatal Dilatation

Meatal stenosis or a meatal stricture is a narrowing of the urethra near to the tip of the penis. This can lead to a poor stream of urine or spraying when passing water, difficulty in passing urine and having to strain or taking a long time to pass urine and empty the bladder.
Meatal dilatation involves passing a short plastic tube into the urethra to stretch it and prevent the urethra from narrowing.
You may have recently had an operation to dilate your urethra, however it is very common for the tightening/stricture to recur. Meatal dilatation will help to keep the urethra patent and can be carried out in the comfort of your own home.
Recurrent infections of the urethra and foreskin, trauma and circumcision can lead to inflammation and scarring which in turn may lead to formation of a stricture.

Pain The procedure may be uncomfortable to start but this should improve over time.

Bleeding A little blood on the dilator is very common, if the bleeding becomes heavy, please contact your healthcare professional.

Infection If you start feeling unwell and your urine becomes cloudy or smelly; you may have an infection, contact your GP or healthcare professional.

Recurring Stricture If you notice your urine stream is getting poorer or you are having difficulties passing the dilator into the urethra, contact your healthcare professional.

Urethral Dilatation

A Stricture is a tightening in the urethra which may occur anywhere from the tip of the penis to the bladder. This may lead to a poor stream of urine or spraying when you pass water, difficulty in passing urine and having to strain to pass water or taking a long time to pass urine and empty the bladder.
Urethral Strictures may result from a number of different reasons including:
  • Recurrent infections and trauma to the urethra may lead to inflammation and scarring which in turn may cause tightening and formation of a stricture.
  • Trauma to the urethra following injury or urological instrumentation.
Urethral dilation can be carried out at home and entails passing a catheter along the urethra through the stricture to stretch it and prevent the urethra from narrowing.
You may have recently had a urethrotomy or an operation to dilate your urethra, however it is very common for the stricture to recur. Passing a catheter or dilator can reduce the stricture recurring and prevent further invasive operations.

There are some risks involved with Urethral Dilatation including:

Pain The procedure may be uncomfortable when you start but this should improve overtime.

Bleeding A little blood on the catheter is very common however if the bleeding becomes heavy, please contact your healthcare professional.

Infection If you start feeling unwell and your urine becomes cloudy or smelly; you may have a urine infection, contact your GP or healthcare professional.

Recurring Stricture If you notice your urine stream is getting poorer or you are having difficulties passing the catheter along the urethra, contact your healthcare professional.