Whether you have problems with urinary retention or you had your bladder reconstructed, self-catheterization may become a component of your self-care. A combination of practice and the right supplies will make the process easier and lower your risk of infection.

Find A Reminder System

Even if urinary retention is an occasional occurrence, learning to self-catheterize is more convenient and less costly than trips to the emergency room to have your urine drained. Furthermore, you want to minimize having an overly full bladder, which can increase your risk of a bladder or kidney infection. In the case of a reconstructed bladder, you might run the risk of your bladder bursting, since it is not designed to hold larger quantities of urine like a true urinary bladder.

You may want to use a reminder system to warn you that you need to self-catheterize, even if your bladder does not feel overly full. This is especially important if you have urinary retention in combination with conditions that inhibit the bladder signal. If you have a mobile phone, try setting an alarm for every four hours during the day. How often you need to set reminders will depend on how much liquids you drink throughout the day and if you are on any medications, such as diuretics, that may increase urinary frequency.

Experiment With Different Catheters

You may have come from the hospital with some supplies to help you start with self-catheterization. Ask your doctor if there is a specific reason you should limit the types of supplies you try. For example, you may require a certain size catheter. Otherwise, try experimenting with different supplies that are within your acceptable range. Look for medical supply companies that will offer you free or low-cost samples of each type of catheter they offer.

You may want to try different self-lubricating catheters, since they are often the most convenient to use, especially when you are away from home. If you need to make costs more affordable, you can use catheters that you have to lubricate yourself while you are at home and save your self-lubricating catheters for going out. Catheters are available in different materials, such as latex-free or silicone. You may find certain materials are easier to insert, especially when combined with a water-based lubricant.

Learn Insertion Tricks

Inserting your own catheter is intimidating, but take comfort in the fact that it will become easier and you can accomplish the task faster as you become more experienced. For women, especially women who have outside employment, self-catheterization can present additional hurdles since the opening to the urethra is not easily visible. You may want to keep a small handheld mirror with you to make catheter insertion easier. Over time, you may be able to insert the catheter "blindly" or just by feel.

Consider Closed Systems

You should speak with your doctor about the risk and benefits of using a closed self-catheterization system for nighttime use. If you sleep many hours during the night and wake up with a painfully full bladder, there may be several benefits to using a closed system. You do not have to be concerned about waking up during the night to self-catheterize and deal with sleep interruptions. In a closed system, the catheter is connected to a bag to collect urine output. You can simply insert the catheter before bed and remove it in the morning. The urine collection bag can be emptied into the toilet after use.

There may be other situations where a closed system can be appropriate, such as going on long trips or if you are in an environment where a bathroom is not always accessible. Ideally, even with your doctor's approval, you should limit the use of a closed system to when it is absolutely necessary. As with all types of catheterization, the longer the catheter remains inside the urethra, your risk of infection increases.

Self-catheterization is not an easy subject, but there are plenty of supplies available to make the day-to-day challenge easier. By selecting the right supplies and learning a few tips, you can become more comfortable with the process. For more information on urological supplies like catheters, contact a company like Medi-Rents & Sales Inc.