A common fear most people experience after a bladder dysfunction diagnosis is will I be able to cath myself? Fortunately, we have an expert is who is willing to share her experience learning to use a catheter. Trudy Triumph is a blog from JoAnne Lake sharing her knowledge and support about neurogenic bladder and bowel. Her goal is to enable other women to release embarrassment and reclaim their lives.
She shared her tips and experience inserting an intermittent catheter.
Are you physically able to use a catheter? It is easy to learn. You will become more independent. Also, it might be better for you to cath more than twice a day. Talk to your doctor about this. If you are able, I promise you will get used to using a catheter. I use a small compact cath about 4-5 times a day. When I insert a catheter, I sit on the toilet.
I do not use a mirror because there is no need to. It's funny. I'm sure a male urologist suggested that women use a mirror because men can see their parts. Perhaps whoever suggested that we use a mirror (a male I would bet money on) could not imagine that seeing is not important to us. We women were born with a three-dimensional roadmap and have never seen our private parts. All you need to do is feel your way and you'll do fine without a mirror.
The key is to understand the anatomy in the female genital area (vulva). The clitoris kind of stands out on its own. The vagina is the large opening behind the clitoris. The urethral opening is between the clitoris and the vaginal opening. I start by washing my hands with soap. The catheter I use is self-lubricated, so that takes out a big step. If I accidentally touch the tip of my catheter with my hand or another object, I throw it away, to prevent infection.
Avoiding Bladder Infection
I do not clean my labia at the time of insertion since I shower once a day. My urologist told me it is not necessary, anyway. There is another school of thought, and that is that cleaning your labia with an antibiotic solution before using a catheter is best. My thoughts on this vary. I know there are bacteria in the labia, but the stinging that can happen if I had to put a solution on my labia six times a day makes me “ouch” just thinking about it. For advice about this, ask your doctor.
After washing your hands, gently press the female catheter in the area between the clitoris and the vaginal opening, and soon you will find the spot. There is definitely an opening, which will become apparent as you probe gently. It will happen, I promise.
Bladder infections are the hardest part of an underactive bladder for me. They happen at inconvenient times. Using a catheter is not perfect, and it leaves us susceptible to them. This is something that we live with, but the good thing is, we live. After I use my catheter, I throw it away because reusing a female catheters can cause bladder infections. If at all possible, I suggest you use a single-use catheter.
Perhaps we have broken bodies. All do really. What is not broken is our soul. We have a lot of living to do!
You are not alone. There are many of us that lead happy, productive, good, lives. Many children learn to use catheters too. Now you are part of our club. Welcome.
Shedding the Shame. Living Life Better
If you're interested in learning more about Joann please read her blog. She also administers a private Facebook group to offer support and encouragement for people suffering with bladder disorders. If you currently use catheters, request a catheter sample. We carry all major catheter manufactures and a full range of male, female, and pediatric sizes and products.
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Information provided on the Aeroflow Urology blog is not intended as a substitute to medical advice or care. Aeroflow recommends consulting your healthcare provider if you are experiencing medical issues relating to incontinence.