Trudy Triumph's Neurogenic Bladder Blog

Woman’s Intermittent Catheter, you can do it!


Dear Trudy,

I would like to be part of a support group of neurogenic bladder. I am very concerned about it as far as the urologist advised me to self-catheter twice a day. I am in shock. My husband is helping me right now but I have to get used of it. Also I am afraid that doing two catheters a day I will not able to do by myself. My bladder is working but obviously it is not doing it well. I have a lot of retention. I am very, very sad, and to read your blog made me think that not everything is lost. Forgive my English, I am Spanish speaking, and I live in Israel. Thank you if you can get in touch with me, thank you very, very much!

A Reader


Dear One,

Thank you for your email.  You are exactly who I write the blog for.  I agree, the diagnosis is devastating. I felt so compelled to start this blog because I felt as you do. You are very fortunate to have found out.  I suffered for years before I discovered that my bladder was the size of a large melon.

As far as support groups, I am on one, on Facebook.  It is called Neurogenic Bladder and Bowel.  I have tried others and they have not worked for me as this one has.  It is a closed group, so ask to join.

This group has helped keep me sane. Not long ago I woke up and felt complete fear.  I had a busy day, I was constipated (often if you have an underactive bladder you have a underactive bowel as well.) I had bladder pain and I was off to a substitute job at a nearby school.  I was not sure how I was going to pull the day off.  I sent a post out to this Facebook group and really let it rip..whaaa, whaaa, whaaa, you know what I mean? I was willing, but my body was weak.  It just felt good that there was a group of folks out there who understood how I felt.  I received the sweetest comments and wonderful encouragement. I agree, support groups are important.

You did not mention your physical limitations in the email.  Are you physically able to cath yourself?  It is easy to learn.  You will become more independent.  Also, it might be better for you to cath more than twice a day. Talk to your doctor about this.  If you are able, I promise you will get used to using a catheter.  I use a small compact cath and use it about 4-5 times a day. I sit on the toilet, as I use a catheter.

I do not use a mirror because there is no need to.I find this funny because I am sure a male urologist suggested that women use a mirror. Men can see their parts. Perhaps whoever suggested that we use a mirror (a male I would bet money on) could not imagine that seeing is not important to us.  We women were born with a three dimensional road map and have never seen our private parts. We need to feel. We do just fine without a mirror.

Bladder infections, are the hardest part of an underactive bladder, for me. They happen at inconvenient times. Using a catheter is not perfect and it leaves us susceptible to them.  This is something that we live with, but the good thing is, we live.  Perhaps we have broken bodies. All do really. What is not broken is our soul. We have a lot of living to do!

You are not alone.  There are many of us that lead happy, productive, good, lives.  Many children learn to use catheters too.  Now you are part of our club. Welcome.

An Excerpt from my book,

Beyond Embarrassment,

by JoAnne Lake (this is my real name) with Julia Parker

So, here is how to insert a catheter without looking. The key is to understand the anatomy in the female genital area (vulva). The clitoris kind of stands out on its own. The vagina is the large opening behind the clitoris. The urethral opening is between the clitoris and the vaginal opening. I start by washing my hands with soap. The catheter I use is self-lubricated, so that takes out a big step. If I accidentally touch the tip of my catheter with my hand or another object, I throw it away, to prevent infection. I do not clean my labia at the time of insertion, since I shower once a day. My urologist told me it is not necessary, anyway. There is another school of thought, and that is that cleaning your labia with an antibiotic solution before using a catheter is best. My thoughts on this vary. I know there are bacteria in the labia, but the stinging that can happen if I had to put a solution on my labia six times a day makes me “ouch” just thinking about it. For advice about this, ask your doctor.

 After washing your hands, gently press the catheter in the area between the clitoris and the vaginal opening, and soon you will find the spot. There is definitely an opening, which will become apparent as you probe gently. It will happen, I promise. After I use my catheter, I throw it away because reusing catheters can cause bladder infections. If at all possible, I suggest you use a single-use catheter.

Shed the shame and stand proud!

7 Responses to “Woman’s Intermittent Catheter, you can do it!”

  1. Reply Kerrie Sanchez

    I have just had my 1 year anniversary of self cathing. I didn’t think I would ever be able to do it. Low and behold it is second nature to me. Time will give you the confidence with cathing. The last year has had some really hard times, but I have overcome all that was handed to me. My bladder just stopped working so I only self cath to empty my bladder. Good luck and remember this will become second nature to you!

  2. Reply Joan Delgado

    Dear One, I surely emphasize with you! I am the wife of a 92 year old bladder cancer survivor of 11 years. His bladder had been distended due to BPH, and only then was his bladder cancer discovered. That was a mixed blessing – he has been in remission for 10 years, but he has to cath 3 times a day due to retention of urine, usually up to 1600 ml.
    I tell you this to put it in to perspective.
    Some days he tells me – I am only going to cath once today – this evening. Then a day or so later, he seems to feel irritation and a stinging feeling when urinating – early signs of an infection? – it seems like a double edged sword.
    He knows he will need to continue to cath, and says he cannot imagine having to ask for my help to cath in the future.

    So, Thanks for your blog Trudy, and we are praying for your cathing skills to improve rapidly with Trudy’s advice!
    from Queensalmon.

  3. Reply Ana Camusso

    Dear Trudy,
    I was not aware you answer my letter. It is so strange, because when I read my own letter i did not recognize it until the end. I read it in shock, really. Time has passed and one week ago I began to introduce the cath by myself, but still my husband is giving it to me. I can not use the small one because up to the urologist, my anatomy is not proper to it, so i am using the coloplast standard catheter for men, but they are using by women too. It is not a very complicate, but of course is not as easy as the small one. I do it with the mirror which caused me many problems, and all the time i do mistakes and i have to try all over again, causing me a lot of fear because always there is that feeling that maybe i can not do it!. But , this is it. Now I am so happy you tell about our mind as women, and the possibility to touch and recognize our body. I will practice from today…I will try…
    regarding facebook support group of course i will visit and ask for permission. I am really so happy now that I get your answer. I am a very corageous person but this time i felt many times that i could not deal with the situation, but it is so wanderful you say about life, and i do want to live…
    thank you very much again, i will visit your blog every day..
    receive my blessing,

    • Reply Trudy Triumph

      I am glad you are doing well and learning to use a catheter by yourself. We all had to learn and move on. Thank you for letting us know how you are doing. We are cheering you on! Trudy

  4. Reply Ana Camusso

    Dear Trudy.
    each day, a new challange: what a life!, but it is okey…
    I am doing with a mirror, but as you say, it would be so good not to have that mirror!, it makes me sometimes be ungry because it disturbing my way to go with the catheter to the meathos. So, I will try without looking at. I read what you wrote, it seems….easy!. I will try tomorrow…lot of blessings!

  5. Reply Ana Camusso

    I am so happy i can do it by myself, still i have to look for a good posicion, and also do it with no looking at the mirror, this is my new challange. The important thing is that my bladder be release, and to it, i do not troublesome about how much i cath myself, it seems that due to my case i should cath from 4 to six times a day….
    but nothing, nothing made me feel that things will go bad. I have a strong example of others sisters and brothers who everyday are trying and be as an examples to others….

  6. Reply Kerrie

    You are not alone in the self cath world. You will get comfortable with it eventually. It took me almost a year. I can only cath as my bladder does not empty at all. Keep your chin up 😀 . Let’s hope that modern medicine will come up with a better option!

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