Discharge Instructions: Self-Catheterization for Men

Your doctor has prescribed self-catheterization for you because you are having trouble urinating naturally. This problem can be caused by injury, disease, infection, or other conditions. Self-catheterization simply means inserting a clean catheter (a thin, flexible tube) into the bladder to empty urine. This helps you empty your bladder when it won’t empty by itself or empty all the way. You were shown in the hospital how to perform self-catheterization. The steps below should help you remember how to do it properly.

Illustration showing a man lubricating the catheter

Illustration showing man inserting catheter into penis.

Gather Your Supplies

You will need the following:

  • Soap and warm water or a moist towelette

  • Clean catheter

  • Water-soluble lubricating jelly (not Vaseline or other petroleum jelly)

  • Toilet or basin

Get Ready

  • Wash your hands and your penis. Use warm soapy water. You can also use a moist towelette.

  • Lubricate the catheter with the water-soluble lubricating jelly.

    • Lubricate 2 to 4 inches of the catheter tip.

    • Place the other end of the catheter over the toilet or basin.

Empty Your Bladder

  • Insert the catheter.

    • Grasp the tip of your penis, holding your penis horizontally from your body..

    • Slowly insert the catheter into your urethra (urinary tract). If it doesn’t go in, do this: Take a deep breath and bear down as if you're trying to urinate.

    • If you feel a sharp pain, remove the catheter; then try again.

  • Empty your bladder.

    • When the urine starts to flow, stop inserting the catheter.

    • Slightly lower your penis.

    • When the urine stops flowing, slowly remove the catheter.

Clean Up

  • Wash the catheter in mild soap and water.

  • Rinse the catheter well.

  • Run water through the catheter. Then let it air-dry.

  • Wash your hands. If you used a basin, wash it out.


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Fever above 100.4°F (38°C) or chills

  • Burning in the urinary tract, penis, or pubic area

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Aching in the lower back

  • Cloudy urine; sediment or mucus in the urine

  • Bloody (pink or red) or foul-smelling urine