Cover Image
close this bookWhere There Is No Doctor - A Village Health Care Handbook (Hesperian Foundation, 1993, 516 p.)
close this folderChapter 18 - THE URINARY SYSTEM AND THE GENITALS
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentUrinary Tract Infections
View the documentKidney or Bladder Stones
View the documentEnlarged Prostate Gland
View the documentDiseases Spread By Sexual Contact (Sexually Transmitted Diseases)
View the documentGonorrhea (Clap, VD, the Drip) and Chlamydia
View the documentSyphilis
View the documentBubos: Bursting Lymph Nodes in the Groin (Lymphogranuloma Venereum)
View the documentHow and When to Use a Catheter (A Rubber Tube to Drain Urine from the Bladder)
View the documentProblems of Women
View the documentVaginal Discharge (a mucus or pus-like stuff that comes from the vagina)
View the documentHow a Woman Can Avoid Many Infections
View the documentPain or Discomfort in the Lower Central Part of a Woman's Belly
View the documentMen and Women Who Are Not Able to Have Children (Infertility)

How and When to Use a Catheter (A Rubber Tube to Drain Urine from the Bladder)


When to use and when not to use a catheter:

· Never use a catheter unless it is absolutely necessary and it is impossible to get medical help in time. Even careful use of a catheter sometimes causes dangerous infection or damages the urinary canal.

· If any urine is coming out at all, do not use the catheter.

· If the person cannot urinate, first have him try to urinate while sitting in a tub of warm water. Begin the recommended medicine (for gonorrhea or prostate trouble) at once.

· If the person has a very full, painful bladder and cannot urinate, or if he or she begins to show signs of poisoning from urine, then and only then use a catheter.

Signs of urine poisoning (uremia):

· The breath smells like urine.
· The feet and face swell.
· Vomiting, distress, confusion.


Note: People who have suffered from difficulty urinating, enlarged prostate, or kidney stones should buy a catheter and keep it handy in case of emergency.


1. Boil the catheter (and any syringe or instrument you may be using) for 15 minutes.

2. Wash well under foreskin or between vaginal lips and surrounding areas.

3. Wash hands - if possible with surgical soap (like Betadine). After washing, touch only things that are sterile or very clean.

4. Put very clean cloths under and around the area.

5. Put on sterile gloves - or rub hands well with alcohol or surgical soap.

6. Cover the catheter with a sterile lubricant (slippery cream) like K-Y Jelly that dissolves in water (not oil or Vaseline).

7. Pull back foreskin (1) or open the vaginal (2) lips

8. Holding the foreskin back or the lips open, gently put the catheter into the urine hole. Twist it as necessary but DO NOT FORCE IT.

9. For a man, push the catheter in until urine starts coming out - then 3 cm. more

Note: A woman's urinary tube is much shorter than a man's.

Important: If the person shows signs of urine poisoning, or if the bladder has been over-full and stretched, do not let the urine come out all at once: instead, let it out very slowly (by pinching or plugging the catheter), little by little over an hour or 2.

Sometimes a woman cannot urinate after giving birth. If more than 6 hours pass and her bladder seems full, she may need a catheter put in. If her bladder does not feel full, do not use a catheter but have her drink lots of water.

For more information on catheter use, see Disabled Village Children, Chapter 25.