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Self-catheterisation in male patients: Frequently asked questions

Patient information A-Z

What is self-catheterisation?

Self-catheterisation means that you insert a small, flexible plastic tube into the bladder. The urine flows out through this tube which is then removed. By emptying the bladder regularly in this way, you will prevent a build up of stagnant urine and should feel more comfortable. You will also be keeping the kidneys and bladder healthy by preventing urinary infections. Some people find that they have less difficulty preventing themselves becoming wet using this technique.

What equipment do I need?

  • A catheter – supplied at first by the out-patient clinic and then available to order on prescription from your GP
  • Baby wipes
  • A bottle, dish or plastic box to catch the urine
diagram showing catheter in urethra
diagram showing catheter in urethra

How do I do it?

  • Sit on a towel with a plastic sheet just underneath; some men prefer to perform self-catheterisation sitting on or even standing in front of the toilet
  • Remove your pants and tuck other clothing out of the way
  • Wash your hands thoroughly
  • Roll back the foreskin and wash the end of the penis using baby wipes
  • Hold the catheter two inches from its tip.
  • Hold the penis straight out from the body and, without touching the catheter on anything else, slowly and gently insert it until urine flows
  • If the catheter seems to stick just before it enters the bladder, wait a few seconds to allow the sphincter (valve) muscle to relax and then push it gently in a little further
  • Withdraw the catheter slowly

Personal information

Use the catheter ……… times a day

Use a new plastic bag every day

Discard the catheter and use a new catheter for each catheterisation (catheters are single-use and are not re-usable)

Catheter information

Catheter recommended…………………………… (male)

Size ……..FG

Other information

This patient information leaflet provides input from specialists, the British Association of Urological Surgeons, the Department of Health and evidence based sources as a supplement to any advice you may already have been given by your GP. Alternative treatments can be discussed in more detail with your urologist or specialist nurse.

Who can I contact for more help or information?

Oncology nurses

Uro-oncology nurse specialist
01223 586748

Bladder cancer nurse practitioner (haematuria, chemotherapy and BCG)
01223 274608

Prostate cancer nurse practitioner
01223 274608 or 01223 216897

Surgical care practitioner
01223 348590 or 01223 256157

Non-oncology nurses

Urology nurse practitioner (incontinence, urodynamics, catheter patients)
01223 274608

Urology nurse practitioner (stoma care)
01223 349800

Urology nurse practitioner (stone disease)
07860 781828

Patient advice and liaison service (PALS)

Telephone: 01223 216756
PatientLine: *801 (from patient bedside telephones only)
Email PALS

Mail: PALS, Box No 53
Addenbrooke's Hospital
Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 2QQ

Chaplaincy and multi faith community

Telephone: 01223 217769
Email the chaplaincy

Mail: The Chaplaincy, Box No 105
Addenbrooke's Hospital
Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 2QQ

MINICOM System ("type" system for the hard of hearing)

Telephone: 01223 217589

Access office (travel, parking and security information)

Telephone: 01223 596060

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151