Here is a collection of tips and hacks from our urology nurse.
How to manage when going out with a catheter
If you are using IC you should take some extra catheters with you in case of any delays getting home.
You should also do a bit of research about the facilities that are available at your destination – try Wheelmate
How to perform a catheter
Check out our video of Ash, a rehab nurse, who shows how it can be done.
Tips on going to the pub?
Alcohol makes you produce more urine than usual. This is because it decreases the amount of anti-diuretic hormone that you produce. This is the hormone that tells your body how much urine you should be making. As a result, you make more urine than you usually would.
If you are using IC, you will need to plan on doing more frequent catheters than usual. It is best to discuss your plan with your urology nurse who can advise you about how often you should perform catheters in this case.
If you have a permanent catheter (IDC or SPC) you should keep a close eye on your drainage bag, as it may need to be emptied more often than usual.
How to approach sex when using a catheter
Sexual relationships may require a bit of planning for people using catheters (IC or IDC/SPC).
If you’re using IC, you may need to perform a catheter before sexual activity depending on how full your bladder is. This can obviously affect spontaneity, but over time you will become used to how your body responds to your individual circumstances.
Sex can be a bit more problematic with a permanent catheter but certainly not impossible:
- Suprapubic catheters can be taped to your abdomen so they’re out of the way – the same can be done for women with urethral catheters.
- Men using a urethral catheter can tape the tubing to the shaft of their penis and then cover both with a condom, however some men find this uncomfortable.
- It is also possible to remove the catheter for sex and insert a new one afterwards if you can confidently and safely do so.
If you are concerned about issues surrounding sex and catheters you should seek advice from your urology nurse.
You can also contact the sexual health counseling service at Austin Health for confidential advice and information: phone 03 9496 4732.
Also check out this resource: PleasureABLE – Sexual device manual for persons with disabilities
Pregnancy and intermittent catheters
It is safe to do intermittent catheters during pregnancy but there are a few things to keep in mind:
- You may have difficulty positioning yourself as your pregnancy progresses
- The urethra gets longer in the later stages and you may require a longer catheter
- You may notice that you have to do your catheters more often as your bladder might not hold as much urine in the later stages of pregnancy
- You might need to find out about different methods of managing your bladder if you are having difficulty
- Make sure that your obstetrician and/or midwife knows about your SCI bladder and any changes to your management should be discussed with your urology nurse.
Am I stuck with my first bladder management choice?
Everyone is an individual and so is their bladder management.
It is expected that your bladder management requirements will change over time as your recovery progresses, and your lifestyle and preferences change. There are many options available and you need to find something that suits you.
When an indwelling catheter has been in for a long time, or you have a sphincterotomy, it can be more difficult to change to intermittent catheters.
If you feel that your current bladder management is not for you then discuss your concerns with your urologist or urology nurse.
How will my catheter affect my bladder and kidneys over time?
Using urinary catheters does increase your risk of long-term complications including recurrent infection, kidney disease, and bladder cancer, but with proper management the risk of these conditions can be lowered.
It’s important to have regular checks (yearly, or more frequently if required) of your urinary system. These tests may include:
- Renal ultrasound
- X-Ray (kidneys, ureters, bladder)
If you notice any changes in your urine or bladder function then contact your GP or urology nurse for advice.
What’s the best equipment available?
The best equipment is something that works for you and you should try a variety of equipment so you can find something that suits you, your lifestyle, and your financial situation.
Trial as many different catheters as possible to see which works best in consultation with medical staff and people with lived experience.
How to stay healthy over the long term
You need to have regular medical check-ups, follow recommendations by medical experts, eat nutritional foods regularly, drink plenty of water and keep active.
If you keep your bladder pressure low and free of infections, this will help to keep you healthy.
For people using IC:
- Make sure you do your catheters frequently and keep your urine volumes below 500mL
- Increase the number of catheters you do if you are drinking more fluid than normal
- Have regular check-ups with your doctor or urology nurse to monitor your kidneys and bladder function