What to expect when having a catheter fitted

If you’ve never had a catheter before, the idea of having one inserted can make some people feel worried, particularly when thinking about the procedure. Sometimes, having a lack of knowledge about something can make it feel scarier than it really is. That’s why we thought we’d write this blog post - so you can feel better informed and hopefully, more at ease.

Before having your catheter fitted

A healthcare professional will have a conversation with you to obtain your consent for the procedure. They’ll explain the reasons why you need a catheter and the reasons for having your particular type of catheter fitted. You can find out more about the different types of catheters available here. You should be given the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. It might be good to have a think about this beforehand and jot them down so you have something to refer back to.

The healthcare professional performing your catheterisation will want to keep everything as clean as possible to reduce any risk of infection. They’ll cleanse the area around your urethra before inserting lubricating jelly, followed by the catheter. This is to minimise the risk of bacteria entering your bladder when the catheter is inserted. This could cause a nasty infection.

Does inserting a catheter hurt?

This is something that people who are new to catheterisation commonly wonder. The procedure can cause some discomfort, and this is why a lubricating gel is applied beforehand. These gels come in syringes (don’t worry – no needles here). They’re specifically designed so the gel coats the whole length of your urethra, helping to encourage the smooth insertion of your catheter. Many catheterisation gels also including topical anaesthetic to help increase your comfort.

The clinician performing your catheterisation procedure will be able to let you know as they’re about to insert your catheter. Try your best to stay relaxed (although this is understandably not easy if you’re new to all of this). It may be useful to take some deep breaths and focus in on your breathing. Click here to discover some useful breathing exercises recommended by the NHS. Your catheter may be pre-connected to a leg bag, which will start collecting urine as soon as the catheter is inside your bladder. Your nurse will need to record how much urine drains after your catheter is fitted, as it will need to be documented in your medical notes.

Looking after your catheter

Once your catheter is fitted, it’s important you’re able to keep it well-secured. This will help to reduce the risk of any discomfort from the catheter rubbing against the delicate tissues inside your urethra. Shop Optimum offers a wide range of catheter fixation devices, so you’re able to experiment and find out what works best for you. To help get you started, we’re able to send you a sample box containing one of each product to try in your own time. To request your free sample box, please email hello@shop-optimum.com.

As well as effectively securing your catheter, it’s important to maintain good personal hygiene. NHS guidance recommends that you wash the skin in the area where the catheter enters your body with mild soap and water at least twice a day. It’s also recommended you stay well-hydrated. Your urine should be pale in colour. If it's a little on the dark side, drink some more water.

We’re here for you

We completely understand that this can feel like a lot of information to take on. If you have any questions at all about the catheterisation procedure, please don’t hesitate to ask your nurse or doctor. Alternatively, the team at Shop Optimum are always here to provide advice, should you have any questions about how to care for your catheter. You can either email hello@shop-optimum.co.uk or call our friendly customer care advisors on +44 (0) 113 263 3849.

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