The Risks of Reusing Catheters BP

As in other cases with reusing single-use devices, reusing catheters that have already been used once or multiple times comes with risks and dangers to health and safety for any individual. Sterile catheters are classified as single-use devices (SUD). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that a single-use device, also referred to as a disposable device, can be defined as a device intended for use on one patient during a single procedure. This device is not intended to be reprocessed (meaning cleaned, disinfected/sterilized) and used again. The labeling for a single-use device may or may not identify the device as single use or disposable and does not include instructions for reprocessing. Despite this information from the FDA, there are still multiple cases of catheters and other SUDs being reused. Especially when regarding patients that receive their care from home and outside of a hospital, it is not hard to imagine how single-use medical devices are not sterilized to adequate standards after reuse.

Reuse of SUDs involves regulatory, economic, medical, ethical, and legal troubles and has been a highly controversial topic for over two decades. In the case of catheters and why there are risks to reusing these devices, there are many crevices in which harmful bacteria can attach to and manifest, which could occur if the device has been reused and not properly cleaned. Depending on the SUD and how many times it has been reused, the product can become less effective or damaged after reprocessing as well. There is evidence from studies that even after careful and professional-level cleanings of catheters, these single-use devices are not always risk- and infection-free.

In one simulation study, catheters that had been deliberately contaminated were then reprocessed (sterilized) and reused and then tested for residual viruses via cell cultures and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). While testing, enterovirus was cultured from one (10%) of the catheters, but no less than six (60%) of the samples were enterovirus PCR positive and one (10%) contained detectable adenovirus DNA. This study was performed with professional and rigorous cleaning of the catheters before virus testing was commenced, and viruses were still found in the catheters. Based on this information, even if catheters are cleaned thoroughly after use and reused again, there is a still a real risk of infection to the patient. Some individuals believe that single-use devices are labeled for single use so that manufacturers of SUDs can maintain their profit margin and avoid liability. However, other individuals that are against reprocessing of SUDs argue that the risks outweigh the benefits and that research has not proven reprocessing to be safe.

When it comes to most everyday products that are used, disposable and usually one-time use products are thrown out without much thought from the average individual. While recognizing the different levels of cost and safety associated with everyday products, the same amount of responsibility of disposing should also be said for products such as catheters that are labeled as single-use. While usually more expensive than average daily products, catheters and other medical devices pertain to the well-being of patients and the public. Even if sterility can be guaranteed in the case of catheters, bacteria and residue may still remain on catheters that have already been used. Therefore, catheters should be disposed and taken care of properly to avoid any possible risks and/ or infections.

D.S. Luijt. “Risk of infection by reprocessed and resterilized virus-contaminated catheters; an in-vitro study,” European Heart Journal (March 1, 2001).
Dunn, D. “Reprocessing single-use devices–the ethical dilemma,” The National Center for Biotechnology Information (May 2002).
“Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008).
“Labeling Recommendations for Single-Use Devices Reprocessed by Third Parties and Hospitals,” Food and Drug Administration (July 30, 2001).

5 Ways to Reduce UTI’s

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the second most common infection in the body, and in some cases, it can lead to serious problems if left untreated or not recognized. Urinary tract infections are most commonly an infection in the bladder, a part of the urinary system that stores urine until it is ready to exit the body. In more severe cases, the kidneys can also become infected because of a urinary tract infection. More rarely, other parts of the urinary system can also become infected from UTIs. In the most basic sense, bacteria is what causes this uncomfortable infection, and women get urinary tract infections more commonly than men, due to women having shorter urethras (a part of the urinary system that connects the bladder and where urine exits the body).

Symptoms and further complications because of a urinary tract infection are dependent on where the infection is located in the urinary system. Urinary tract infections in the bladder can lead to symptoms such as a strong, persistent urge to urinate; burning when urinating; cloudy urine; blood in the urine; and pelvic pain, especially in women. Infection of the bladder specifically can cause symptoms such as blood in the urine, discomfort in the lower abdomen, and pelvic pressure. A UTI in the urethra, while rare, can result in symptoms such as discharge and burning with urination to occur.

In the most serious form, infection in the kidneys can lead to nausea; vomiting; upper back and side pain; shaking and chills; and high fever. If the infection does reach one or both of the kidneys, the bacteria can cause damage that will permanently reduce kidney function. Especially in individuals who experience kidney problems already, this is quite a serious problem. In the worst situation with the smallest chance, the infection can also reach the bloodstream through the kidneys, which allows the bacteria to potentially reach other organs.

Because urinary tract infections in the bladder are common to happen, knowing how to prevent UTIs is important. Below are 5 ways to reduce these infections:

1. Refrain from using the same catheter more than once.

Although sterilizing/ washing and reusing catheters may work for some individuals, the majority of people experience recurring urinary tract infections when catheters are reused. Using a urinary catheter one time and disposing of it can reduce urinary tract infections significantly. Luckily, most major insurance companies, such as Medicaids, Medicare, and even VA, cover sterile and single-use catheters. Reusing catheters and using indwelling catheters can often lead to infections, which can cost insurance companies more.

2. Hydrophilic catheters can be the answer to reduce infections.

These types of catheters help you avoid discomfort and infection by lessening friction and injury to the urethra, which can occur with other types of catheters. Unlike conventional catheters, hydrophilic catheters have a surface that remains smooth and slippery all the way from insertion to withdrawal, due to a layer of lubrication that is bound to the catheter surface and water-activated. Since the pre-lubricated coating is activated by sterile water, there is no need to touch it, which reduces the risk of contamination that can arise because of stray bacteria or pathogens that may be on your hands.

3. Use catheters that have an introducer tip attached, such as a closed system catheter.

Most closed systems have an additional safety feature known as an introducer or insertion tip. The introducer tip permits the pre-lubricated urinary catheter to bypass the highest concentrations of bacteria found in the first few millimeters of the urethra, rather than pushing the bacteria further into the urethra whilst inserting the catheter. This will help fight against and prevent urinary tract infections.

4. Catheterizing correctly is key.

Learning and knowing how to catheterize correctly can help avoid irritation and infections, such as UTIs, that can occur when a technique is executed incorrectly. Your doctor or primary care nurse can help and show you how to catheterize properly once you are comfortable with a catheter. They can also show you how to keep the equipment sterile for usage.

5. Use insertion supplies.

Insertion supplies are conveniently packaged along with the urinary catheter in most closed system kits, many hydrophilic catheters, and some intermittent catheters to assist in creating a disinfected environment. Insertion supplies usually comprise of benzalkonium chloride wipes, sterile gloves, an underpad, and a col

Bladder Problems – Spina Bifida

Bladder Problems

Many people underestimate the bladder’s importance and what is required to keep the organ healthy. In conjunction with the rest of the urinary system (kidneys, ureters, and the urethra), the bladder has the important function of storing urine until the body is ready to urinate. Due to factors such as lifestyle habits and bacteria entering the body, the bladder is often ignored until a problem arises in the urinary system. Typically, the most common and recognizable bladder problem is a urinary tract infection. This infection occurs when bacteria enters through the urethra and into the bladder, or the bladder is unable to empty properly, which leaves residual urine in the bladder that can become infected. Bladder infections are the most common form of urinary tract infections, but infections can also occur in the kidneys and urethra. If infection in the kidneys occurs, it can lead to severe problems and cause permanent damage to the kidneys if it happens frequently or is not attended to quickly. An infection in the urethra is possible but is less common.

Even more serious forms of bladder problems are urinary incontinence, which is a lack of bladder control and urine leakage, and urinary retention, an inability to empty the bladder properly. These two types of bladder problems can be caused by an array of factors including neurogenic disorders. These neurogenic disorders include an injury to the spinal cord, multiple sclerosis (MS), and spina bifida (a birth defect of the spine that often causes paralysis). Urinary incontinence and retention can also be happening due to the consequence of an underlying physical disease caused by an irregularity in the bladder. It can be related to old age as well. Bladder cancer, which is found in the lining of the bladder, is also a serious medical issue that involves blood in the urine, lower back pain, and a persistent urge to urinate.

If neurogenic disorders, such as multiple sclerosis or spina bifida, are experienced along with either urinary retention or incontinence, this is known as neurogenic bladder. This condition is simply the term for when normal control over the bladder is lost, caused by damage to the central nervous system. People living with neurogenic bladder are usually affected in one of two ways. Flaccid bladder is when the bladder is excessively and overly stretched, which allows exceedingly large quantities of urine to be reserved before exiting the body. The bladder stretches and can hold a limit of 2000 milliliters of urine, which may lead to leakage of the urine. In some illnesses or disorders, such as spina bifida, flaccid bladder will usually occur in combination with a complication of a sphincter muscle that will not open. On the other hand, spastic bladder happens when the bladder is very stiff, which means the bladder is not able to stretch as it should. Therefore, the bladder cannot hold the amount of urine that is considered normal as well. The bladder also may not be able to empty properly. This increases the chance of a urinary tract infection, since the urine that is left behind serves as a pool for bacteria to grow and thrive in the bladder.

Symptoms of Bladder Problems

The symptoms of the bladder and urinary problems are dependent on the underlying cause(s) and which bladder problem a person is being affected by. Below are what the symptoms are of the above-mentioned problems with the bladder:

Urinary tract infections can include symptoms such as bloody, foul-smelling, or cloudy urine; feeling the strong need to urinate frequently, even when the bladder is already empty; burning sensation or pain while urinating; and/ or a mild fever in some individuals. If a urinary tract infection spreads to the kidneys, symptoms can include feeling tired or generally ill; night sweats; very bad abdominal pain in some individuals; fever above 101 degrees fahrenheit; aching in the back, groin, or side; flushed, reddened, or warm skin; and/ or nausea and vomiting.

Symptoms of urinary incontinence can include small or large quantities of urine leaking without warning or without feeling the urge to go to the toilet; the requirement to wake up to pass urine two or more times during the night (known as nocturia); an unexpected urge to get to the toilet to urinate; and involuntarily leakage when sneezing, coughing, laughing or exercising.

Individuals living with urinary retention can experience a weak flow of urine; an urgent sense to urinate but inability to start the urine flow; discomfort; a feeling of bloat in the lower abdomen; dribbling because of overflow incontinence; and/ or numerous visits to the toilet.

Typical symptoms of spastic bladder can include the need to empty the bladder frequently, uncontrolled leakage, spontaneous emptying.


Medical conditions creating bladder or urinary issues are typically categorized as either neurogenic or non-neurogenic conditions. Some conditions may cause urinary retention, or the conditons may prevent the bladder from emptying completely and require a form of treatment. For the conditions that can cause urinary incontinence, collecting devices, or a urisheath and bag, offer comfortable solutions for men. There are also special pads available, which are designed specifically for women that have urinary incontinence.

Some conditions that eventually or immediately result in damage to the nervous system include injury to the spinal cord, stroke, diabetes mellitus, multiple sclerosis (MS), and spina bifida. Symptoms of these conditions can widely vary based on where the neurological injury occurs and what level of severity the injury is.

There are other medical conditions that cause bladder issues as well. An example of a non-neurogenic medical condition producing bladder and urinary problems is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as an enlarged prostate. Benign prostatic hyperplasia can have a huge impact on men who are diagnosed with this condition and their daily lives, as urinary symptoms may appear as the prostate grows. Symptoms can become very bothersome, and if severe enough, an intermittent catheter, medicine or an operation may be needed.

Other non-neurogenic medical conditions that can cause bladder problems involve benign prostatic hyperplasia or enlarged prostate; enfeebling of the pelvic floor due to age, pregnancy, and/ or childbirth; surgery on the prostate or bladder; bladder cancer; aging; and botox injections of the bladder to control urinary incontinence.


Some people who suffer from specific bladder problems may find that they prefer to use catheters compared to other forms of treatments. In some cases, these medical devices prove to be the most effective treatment, especially for those experiencing urinary incontinence or retention. Many options are available for both men and women, and what catheter is right for every person depends on what is recommended by doctors’ orders and what adequately accommodates every lifestyle. Intermittent catheterization includes inserting and removing a catheter multiple times a day, whenever the bladder needs to be emptied. This form of catheterization is one of the most favored forms of catheterization due to this method resulting in less infections in the bladder and the rest of the urinary system. A sterile catheter is inserted into the urethra and then into the bladder every time urine must be passed and does not require a collection method for urine. However, if a urinary collection bag would suit someone else’s lifestyle better, indwelling catheters, such as the Foley catheter, work well for some bladder problems as well. Indwelling catheters are catheters that are not removed from the urethra and usually involve urinary collection bags. These bags are either fastened to the ankle, thigh, or stomach and are typically easy to hide under clothing. Other forms of catheters include external catheters, stoma catheters, and other types of urinary collection bags.

When to Consult a Healthcare Professional

Those individuals who live with or experience problems with the bladder may put off going to see a healthcare professional due to any embarrassment they may feel about their conditions. However, bladder problems are more common than what some people may think. In some cases, having an issue with the bladder may be an indication of a more significant and potentially hazardous health condition. Therefore, listening to the bladder and informing healthcare providers of urinary changes should be taken very seriously.

Bladder problems can be caused by many factors, including numerous medical conditions and injuries. These issues may also be an indication that another area of health needs attention.

Catheterization for Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal Cord and Spinal Injuries

The spinal cord is located within the spinal column and has two basic functions. It can act as a nerve center and can work without the brain. The spinal cord carries sensory impulses to the brain and motor impulses from the brain. The fibers of the sensory root carry stimulations to the spinal cord (position sense, touch, pain, and temperature) from joints, tendons, and body surfaces. The motor roots carry signals from the spinal cord. The spinal cord also controls stretch reflexes, bladder, and bowel control. Thirty-one pairs of nerves exit from the spinal cord and innervate the entirety of the body and the limbs. Spinal nerves communicate to where it emerges and passes through the spinal vertebrae. There are eight cervical (neck), twelve thoracic (chest), five lumbar (lower back), five sacral (sacrum bone) and one coccygeal (tailbone) nerve(s). The spinal cord also acts as a nerve center between the brain and the rest of the body. It is a crucial part of the body, which means an injury to the spinal cord can be catastrophic to a person’s life and health.

The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (2014) estimated that the annual incidence of spinal cord injury, not including those who die at the scene of the injury, is approximately 40 cases per million population in the U.S. Injuries to the spinal cord more often than not begin with an unexpected, devastating strike to the spine that fractures or dislocates the vertebrae. The damage occurs in the same moment of injury and impact, when bone fragments, disc material, or ligaments that have been displaced bruise or tear into the tissue of the spinal cord. Depending on what has been injured, people with spinal cord injuries can also have their bowel and bladder control, as well as stretch reflexes, impacted by the trauma of the injury. Every injury to the spinal cord depends on the situation. Some individuals will be able to have a nearly full recovery of the injured areas and body. Other injuries will unfortunately result in complete paralysis. These factors all depend on how severe the injury is, where the injury occurred, and what caused it.

Causes of injuries to the spinal cord can vary. Common causes, however, are usually vehicle crashes, falls, and acts of violence (i.e. gunshot wounds). The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (2014) outlined that motor vehicle accidents account for 38 percent of reported spinal cord injury cases, which accounts for the majority of injuries. The second most common cause of injuries is falls at 30 percent, followed by acts of violence at 14 percent—primarily gunshot wounds. Other causes can be injuries from sports, diving, and industrial accidents.

Ranges in Injuries

Loss of neurologic function and paralysis typically occurs below the level of the injury. Therefore, the higher the spinal injury is on the spinal column, the greater loss of function is in the body. Below is a list of nerves, where they are located, and what part of the body is impacted when those areas are injured.

Cervical spinal nerves (C1 to C8) can be found on the spinal cord in the neck area and control impulses to the back of the head, the neck and shoulders, the arms and hands, and the diaphragm.
The thoracic spinal nerves (T1 to T12) emerge from the spinal cord in the upper mid-back area and have control over signals to the chest muscles, certain back muscles, many organ systems, and even some parts of the abdomen.

Lumbar spinal nerves (L1 to L5) emerge from the spinal cord in the low back region of the body and control stimulations to the lower parts of the abdomen and the back, some parts of the leg, the buttocks, and some parts of the external genital organs.

The sacral spinal nerves (S1 to S5) are located on the spinal cord in the low back and have control over any signals to the thighs and lower parts of the legs, the feet, most of the external genital organs, and the area around the anus.

Injuries to the spinal cord can be categorized as either tetraplegia or paraplegia in most cases. Tetraplegia (also known as quadriplegic) normally results from to an injury between the C1 and T1. This type of injury is typically associated with a loss of feeling or movement in the upper body such as the head, neck, shoulder, arms, hands and/or fingers. Paraplegia may result from an injury between levels T2 and S5. This type of injury can affect the lower part of the body the most, which includes the stomach, hips, legs, and feet/toes.

Incomplete tetraplegia and paraplegia is when the spinal cord’s ability to transport messages to or from the brain is not completely lost. Those with incomplete injuries to the spinal cord can still retain some sensory function if treated immediately, and they may still have motor activity below the injury site that they can control. On the other hand, complete tetraplegia and paraplegia entirely stops nerve communications between the brain and spinal cord to parts of the body below the site of injury. In these cases, there is a total absence of sensory and motor function in the sacral sections S4-5.

Neurogenic Bladder

The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center proclaim 40 new cases of spinal cord injury per million of the population per year. More than 80 percent of those same individuals display at least some level of dysfunction in the bladder. Neurogenic bladder is the overall name for most bladder issues after an injury or illness. Neurogenic bladder is a complication where a person lacks bladder control due to a condition with the brain, spinal cord, or nerves.

Various muscles and nerves must work in combination with each other for the bladder to hold the urine, until it is ready to be emptied. Nerve messages also go back and forth between the brain and the muscles that control the bladder. If these nerves are harmed by injury, the muscles may not be able to constrict or relax at the correct time. Most spinal cord injuries affect the functions of the bladder because the nerves that control the involved organs originate in the segments near the lower end of the spinal cord. Although the kidneys continue to produce urine after injury, bladder control can be lost entirely. The chance of bladder and urinary tract infections (UTIs) increases at this point.

Disorders of the central nervous system commonly cause neurogenic bladder as well. These disorders can include birth defects of the spinal cord, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord or brain tumors, and Alzheimer’s disease. Damage or disorders of the nerves can also cause neurogenic bladder. This includes nerve damage (neuropathy), nerve damage because of long-term and heavy alcohol use, nerve damage due to long-term diabetes, and nerve damage from a herniated disk or spinal canal stenosis. Symptoms of neurogenic bladder depend on what the cause is of the neurogenic bladder.

Clean Intermittent Catheters

Spinal cord injuries will often require individuals to perform intermittent catheterization, or take other medical steps to help manage their bladders. This could include behavioral techniques, physiotherapy such as massage therapy, transurethral and suprapubic catheters, as well as condom catheters and penile clamps. Intermittent catheterization is when a catheter is meant to be inserted and removed throughout the day in order to drain the bladder. This is an excellent choice for anyone with a condition or injury that does not allow them to empty their bladder properly or if urinary incontinence is being experienced.

Spinal cord injuries often require catheterization because the trauma to the spine may cause damage to the nerves that control the functions of the bladder. As seen above, there are numerous options for catheterization. Depending on your situation and condition/ injuries, as well as what other treatments your body responds to, catheterization may be best for your health and comfort. Choosing which catheter is best suitable for spinal cord injuries relies on where the injury is located and how complete or incomplete the injury is. Consulting your doctor and following the care and health regimen they order for you should always be a top priority.

What Causes Urinary Incontinence

What is Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is involuntary bladder leakage of any kind and an overall loss of bladder control, which can make everyday life uncomfortable. Urinary incontinence is not a disease or illness but rather an indicator of other underlying bodily and health problems that are occurring in the body. There can be many factors that need to be taken into account while treating this issue, and it is a condition that is more common that you may know.

What Causes it?

The causes of urinary incontinence can vary and depend on multiple aspects. Firstly, temporary incontinence can occur due to consumption of certain foods and drinks. Alcohol, caffeine (i.e. coffee or tea), high sugar content, smoking, and some medications such as muscle relaxers can all cause irritations in the bladder. Diabetes, stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease can also be major causes, as well as surgery, menopause, and obesity. Essentially, anything that is interfering with the urinary system working correctly can cause urine to leak and loss of bladder control.

Urinary incontinence is a problem that is more associated with women, but men can experience this issue as well. In women, stress incontinence is usually experienced the most. Stress incontinence is experienced when any movement such as sneezing, laughing, coughing, bending, lifting, or physical activity such as running puts pressure on the bladder and causes urine to leak. This type of urinary incontinence can happen to women who have been pregnant and gone through childbirth, cystocele and pelvic organ prolapse, and menopause. Urge incontinence, also called overactive bladder, is another type of urinary incontinence women can sometimes experience, where the overwhelming urge to urinate is felt very suddenly and cannot be ignored or stopped.

It is a reasonable question to ask why incontinence affects women more than men and why factors such as pregnancy or menopause play a part. After pregnancy and childbirth, either by vaginal or c-section delivery, the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder, urethra, uterus (womb), and bowels may become weaker or damaged. When the muscles that support the urinary tract are weak, those muscles in the urinary tract must work harder to hold urine until you are ready to go to the bathroom. This extra stress or pressure on the bladder and urethra can cause urinary incontinence or leakage. As previously mentioned, women experiencing menopause are at risk of developing urinary incontinence as well. This may be due to the drop in the estrogen hormone.
In men, the most common type of incontinence men experience is overflow incontinence, which happens when the bladder is full. It is rare in women and more common in men who have problems with the prostate. Constant dribbling and feeling the need to go to the bathroom are often common symptoms. Men with prostate gland problems are at an increased risk of urge incontinence as well. The most common cause of incontinence in men is prostate surgery. Other medical conditions that men may have that cause urinary leaking are prostate cancer and enlargement of the prostate gland. For both women and men, injury to the nervous system, birth defects, and physiological problems associated with aging can cause incontinence. In some instances, some people both leak urine with activity (stress urinary incontinence) and also feel the urge to urinate often (overflow urinary incontinence), a condition known as mixed incontinence. Medical conditions that are easily treatable such as urinary tract infections and constipation can also trigger some kinds of incontinence.

How is Urinary Incontinence Diagnosed?

Diagnosis can include your doctor giving you a physical examination and inquiring about past medical history. If your doctor thinks you are experiencing stress incontinence, for example, you may be asked to cough with a full bladder to see if any urine leaks; this is simply known as a stress test. Some questions about past medical histories may include how often you empty your bladder, how much urine is leaked, and what kind of medications you take. Doctors may diagnose the type of urinary incontinence you are experiencing based on your medical history and the physical exam. They may also use this information to decide if more testing is needed for you. Other kinds of tests are urinalysis and urodynamic tests. Urinalysis is when your urine sample is sent by your doctor or nurse to the lab and tested to find the source of any infections or complications. Urodynamic tests include several painless tests that will assist your doctor in understanding how your urinary system is functioning, including a test that lets your doctor to measure the pressure in your bladder, in order to see what level of fluid your bladder can hold. An ultrasound may also be needed to take pictures of the kidneys, bladder, and urethra to see if there is anything causing complications.

In some cases, your doctor may find that what is causing the leakage can be corrected easily. Impacted stool, restricted mobility, and certain medications you may be taking are other causes that are simple to fix. Pads or diapers can prevent embarrassing leaks, but other treatment options may be a better fit for your condition and experience.

What Are Treatment Options?

Regardless of what kind of incontinence you have and its level of severity, you should talk to your doctor and work together to create a unique treatment plan that will be effective in treating you specifically. Starting out with treatment may be as easy as taking steps from home, such as losing weight or changing your diet. Watching what you drink in a day is also a key part of treatment. Drinking six to eight glasses of water per day may be recommended to you, which can help reduce bladder irritation. Staying away from and/ or limiting drinks such as fruit juices and coffee may be required. Some form of bladder training may prove to be effective as well; keeping track of how often you urinate and when you have leakage are the first steps. Getting a more regular routine down with less visits to the bathroom should gradually make leaking less of a problem. For men and women especially who have minor medical conditions or irritations, strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can be effective in treatment for some cases. Exercising the pelvic floor can be done by doing kegel exercises regularly; this exercise should be done about three times a day, and it can be beneficial for some.

Other treatments may be recommended if these steps do not improve your condition, depending on what your doctor thinks will be the best for your health. More intensive treatments include: medication, medical devices such as a urethral insert or a pessary, interventional therapies such as botox and nerve stimulators, or surgeries, which is not recommended for women who plan on becoming pregnant in the future. Other options such as absorbent pads are very effective when experiencing leaks and are often not bulky or uncomfortable.

If you are experiencing incontinence due to your bladder not emptying properly, you may need to learn to use a catheter. Catheters are soft tubes that are inserted into the urethra until it reaches the bladder and drains the urine. Catheters and other supplies can be bought at medical supply stores, and you will get a prescription for the right catheter for you. There are many different types and sizes. Some catheters are meant to be used only once, and others can be reused if cleaned appropriately. Most insurance companies will pay for you to use a sterile catheter for each use. If you are reusing your catheter, you must clean it every day. There are also catheters called “indwelling” catheters that can be kept in day and night if it is suitable for your conditions. Catheters as a method of treatment for incontinence can be used for any type of urinary incontinence, and it may be the best course of action for you if other treatments are not effective. Talking to your doctor about which specific catheters and available treatments for incontinence are right for you is highly recommended.