Intermittent Catheterization in women

May 24 2018

It takes a little while to get used to urinary catheters, especially if you are a woman – that’s an unfortunate fact. In this post, we'll help you overcome the barriers! 


Many women struggle for years to find a solution to their bladder problems, without success. Intermittent catheterization (IC) might be the solution. With the right support an the start, it will soon become a natural part of your life - and improve bladder function!

So what is intermittent catheterization?

A urinary catheter is basically a plastic tube that you insert into the urethra to access the bladder, emptying it of urine. The urine goes into the toilet and the catheter is disposed of. This method is also called self-catheterization, since you do it yourself, at home or elsewhere. With IC you empty the bladder as many times a day as you normally would have gone to the toilet.

And why is it harder for women? 

  • Finding the urethra
    To be frank, for a woman it’s not that easy to see where to insert the catheter. You might need more support at the beginning – don’t be afraid of asking your doctor or nurse. You can also use a mirror to find your way. There are practical models that you can place on your thigh.
  • Finding a bathroom
    You can use catheters when you are away from home as well, but it can be stressful if you don’t know where to find an accessible bathroom, especially if you are using a wheelchair. Some women drink less to avoid going to the toilet, but that's not a good idea… Another way of catheterizing away from home is using catheters with a urinary bag attached, and then you just need to find a private room.
  • Yet another “to-do”
    For many it seems messy and time-consuming and yet another thing to consider among a mounting pile of tasks. It might take a little longer in the bathroom than before, but it is just a few more minutes, as soon as you are used to it.
  • It seems scary…
    Some women are ashamed of using catheters. Some experience a loss of dignity and low self-esteem, when they can’t pee naturally. For some it affects their intimate relationships and yet some think urinary catheters seems invasive and painful. All these concerns are natural in the beginning, but it doesn't have to be that way. Your doctor or nurse are there to help you!

How to overcome the barriers

  • Give it an honest chance
    Your dedication will ensure the outcome.
  • Catheter choice matters
    Make sure to do a conscious catheter choice by evaluating different options. It’s very important to find a catheter that fits your needs and doesn’t harm your urethra in the long run. The surface is key!
  • Tailored to you
    The whole treatment solution should fit into your everyday life to avoid the feeling of yet another thing to do.
  • A good start
    A good start is crucial in succeeding with intermittent catheterization. Demand good support from your healthcare provider and expect the most out of your catheter.

We've created useful guides and reviews regarding women and catheterization, please click the link below to download these PDFs:

Download Encathopedias (pdf): Multiple Sclerosis and the Bladder & Spinal Cord  Injury and the Bladder


Topics: Clean Intermittent Catheterization (CIC), Women's health