I've been told I need to self-catheterise. What happens now?

Posted by Gosia Kowalewska, January 13 2020

Intermittent self catheterisation can be the solution for many Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS) in women, but it can still be a shock to be told that you will need to catheterise.




‘‘I was so resistant to the thought of having to self-catheterise that the consultant at the time sent me away saying: ‘Give this some thought and come back when you’ve worked out what you want to do’" - Serena

For many women like Serena, the prospect of having to perform intermittent self-catheterisation (ISC) can be very daunting. There are so many misconceptions about self-catheterisation, so it's understandable that questions might come to your mind the moment you are told 'you need to self catheterise':

  • ‘How will I live with self catheterisation?’
  • ‘How will the procedure fit into my everyday life?’
  • ‘Will the others know; do I need to tell them about it?’
  • ‘How will this impact my relationship?’
  • ‘How will I ever get a grip on how to perform ISC?’

Despite having so many concerns, many women avoid talking openly about self-catheterisation and the topic can cause feelings of embarrassment, perhaps even shame. Talking about catheterisation in front of friends, family and even health care providers can be a struggle at first - but it won't feel this way forever.

At Wellspect we are determined to break this stigma. We meet so many women whose quality of live has been improved by self catheterisation, letting them live life as close to ‘normal’ as possible. Serena is one such catheter user:

Serena's Story


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When I was told I had a problem with my bladder I was absolutely mortified. You don’t expect to hit 40 and be told that somehow your body has gone wrong and you’re in danger of needing dialysis. So, it was a bit of a pivotal moment for me really.
I was so resistant to the thought of having to self-catheterise the consultant at the time sent me away saying: ‘give this some thought, come back when you’ve worked out what you want to do’.
So I left it and I left it and I left it… and I tried to hide this horrible problem somewhere. But two or three years later I knew that the problem was getting worse, I couldn’t pass any urine at all. I was very uncomfortable. So I went back. I took the plunge and decided to start self-catheterising.'

Despite initial feelings of embarrassment, Serena found being open about using catheters helped to improve her confidence:

In that first year I had a few difficult conversations with friends and people at work. They were a bit embarrassed, but it gave me the opportunity to learn how to talk to people about ISC.

As time has gone on, having these conversations has made me much more positive and confident about ISC. When you start talking to people, you don’t feel embarrassed anymore and actually I’m very proud to self-catheterise.

Today, Serena is not only proud to catheterise but is also an advocate for women with Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms benefiting from the freedom provided by ISC.

I’m very passionate about ISC because it’s made a really big difference to me and how I physically feel, so I really want everyone else to benefit from that positivity as well.

If you would like more information on Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms in women, you can download a handy guide using the link below:

Get the Women & LUTS eBook


Topics: Women's Health, Bladder Management, Self-catheterisation