Beginner Tips for Intermittent Catheters

If you are new to intermittent catheterization (commonly referred to as CIC- Clean Intermittent Catheterization) I have been there. I speak from experience (20+ years of personally using intermittent catheters). CIC can be overwhelming at first, but over time and with practice, it gets easier. It really does. 

In the beginning, give yourself grace – and patience. Things like hand dexterity, mobility, and anatomy are factors that make learning CIC unique to each individual.

Here are 6 tips that have worked for me:

  1. Knowledge is key.

Don’t be reluctant to ask questions. This is a learning process, and it is important to allow yourself space to ask questions.

  1. Try different intermittent products.

The overall convenience of the catheter will help make the process easier. There are many types of products to choose from. Ask your physician (and/or support team) which will work best for your individual situation. Here is a helpful checklist of starter questions to ask:

  • Should you use latex, rubber, silicone, or polyvinylchloride (PVC)? The material of the catheter influences the rigidity.
  • Non-hydrophilic catheters vs hydrophilic catheters? Uncoated/Non-coated catheters; some catheters are pre-lubricated or manufactured with a coating that improves catheter lubrication and eases insertion.
  • Should you use a “No-touch” or “Touchless” catheterization?
  1. Request free samples

( is a link that provides free samples)

  1. Find support

Support can be found in many ways. Ask other IC users. Talk openly with your urologist or primary care physician. Call your durable medical provider. Join online support groups that offer a place to ask questions.

  1. Get to know your body.

Learn your body and don’t be shy to discover it. Even after spinal cord injury, the body is amazing! Give yourself permission to explore and understand your body after injury. This will help you know when changes occur, like urinary tract infection or pressure sores. It is your body; take good care of it.  

  1. You’re NOT alone.

Incontinence is an ‘able-bodied issue as well. Urinary elimination can be compromised by illness, surgery, pregnancy, menopause, and other conditions.

Most people feel apprehensive about performing Intermittent Self Catheterization. It can be a bit awkward to start with but with practice, you will soon become confident, your local health care professional will offer you support until you feel able to manage alone.  Most people go on to say that they find it easy to self-catheterize after a time.

Helpful Definition of Terms:

Clean Intermittent Catheterization (CIC)
Refers to the act of draining urine by passing a catheter through the urethra, past the sphincter into the bladder. The catheter is removed after the urine has been drained. This process is performed using a clean technique. A new sterile catheter is used for each episode.

Clean Intermittent Self Catheterization (CISC)
Performing CIC for oneself.

Clean Technique
The process of performing a procedure under clean conditions in order to reduce the number of microorganisms. This includes handwashing, non-sterile gloves, a clean field, and clean or sterile equipment.

Hydrophilic Coated Urinary Catheters
Urinary catheters which are coated, and either activated with water or pre-packed with a sterile gel or fluid reservoir.

A surgical procedure in which the appendix and bowel are used to create a connection between the bladder and the abdominal skin surface to allow for urinary catheterization through a stoma.

Neurogenic Bladder
A dysfunction of the bladder due to a neurological condition.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
An infection of the kidney ureter, bladder, and/or urethra.

*Please be advised these are suggestions on how to use an intermittent self catheter. Consult your physician before use.

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