For most wheelers, catheterizing comes with a disability of MS, SCI, polio, spina bifida or other condition that can cause your brain and bladder to stop talking to one another. Cathing helps relieve the bladder, but for women who cath, a shorter urethra causes a higher risk than men of contracting urinary tract infections. With proper hygiene and catheter usage, the number of UTIs you acquire can be reduced. Here are tips and scenarios that may help you change your practice or find a more suitable catheter for your comfort and health.
How Your Bladder Works
Your bladder is a muscle that constricts to hold urine until your brain sends a signal to relax the urethra sphincter muscle for urine release. When that message isn’t received, placing a catheter between the sphincter muscle — either intermittently or indwelling — works with gravity to siphon urine through tiny eyelets at the catheter tip.
Intermittent cathing should be done four to six times per day or when the bladder has 400 ml of urine. Holding more urine can distend the bladder, which can lead to infection. Emptying your bladder improves blood circulation, making mucous membranes more resistant to infectious bacteria.
Indwelling catheters, which are held in place by one or two small balloons that are inflated once inside, remain in your bladder for two to four