Intermittent Self-Catheterization for Females

Intermittent catheterization is the placement of a temporary catheter, or tube, to remove urine from your bladder. This is usually done by placing the catheter through the urethra into the bladder.

The goal of intermittent catheterization is to prevent urinary tract infections and to completely empty your bladder. Most people are able to learn how to perform this procedure themselves.

General Safety Precautions

  • Wash and dry hands thoroughly before the procedure.
  • Always use a clean catheter.
  • Rinse soiled catheter under cool water immediately after using it, and then wash it with soap and water.
  • Keep clean and soiled catheters in separate containers.

Call your Doctor, if you...

  • have any sign of infection: fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or higher, chills, cough, sore throat, redness or tenderness along a vein, at an IV site, or at any other wound or skin irritation
  • have frequency and/or urgency of urination; pain or burning sensation when you urinate or in the area around your urethra or bladder; or have a change in your urine (cloudiness, blood, or pus)

Equipment Needed

  • Three female self -catheters (2 are extra, in case you need them)
  • Clean towel, washcloth, soap, and water
  • Water-soluble lubricant
  • Separate containers for clean and contaminated catheters
  • Container to drain urine, if not using toilet, or to measure the amount


  • Wash hands with soap and water.
  • Lubricate the catheter from the tip for about 2 inches.
  • Get into a comfortable position for the catheterization. You may stand or sit on the toilet, whichever you find easier.
  • Locate your urethral opening. The opening is located below your clitoris and above your vaginal opening.
  • Clean the area, wiping once (front to back) with an antibacterial wipe.
  • Spread your vaginal lips with your second and fourth finger, while using your middle finger to feel for the urethral opening.
  • Begin to gently insert the catheter into the opening, guiding it upward as if toward your belly button.
  • Once the catheter has been inserted about 2 to 3 inches past the opening, urine should begin to flow.
  • Once the urine flow starts, continue to advance the catheter another 1 inch and hold it in place until the urine flow stops and the bladder is empty.
  • Withdraw the catheter in small increments to make sure the entire bladder empties.
  • Wash the catheter with soap and water right away.
  • Record the amount of urine you obtained.


If you have any questions, call the Urology Center at (716) - 845-3159 between 8 am and 4:40 pm Monday to Friday. After hours and on weekends and holidays, call (716) 845-2300 and ask to speak to the urologist on call.