The Importance of a Cathing Routine

With the common distractions of everyday life, it can be easy to find reasons why sticking to a routine may be difficult. However, as an intermittent catheter user, your self-cathing routine may be one of the most important routines to stick with, especially since this routine is prescribed by your doctor. Here is some advice to keep in mind if you’re needing help keeping up with your cathing routine.

Cathing Routine Basics

There are several reasons why you may need to use intermittent catheters, but fundamentally, you’ve been prescribed to self-cath because there is something affecting how your bladder or detrusor muscle (the bladder wall) functions, and your body needs a little help to drain urine.

Depending on your condition, you may need to catheterize only once a day or multiple times a day. On average, an intermittent catheter user empties their bladder about 4 to 6 times a day.1,2 Be sure to talk with your doctor. Your doctor will help you determine how many times a day you should be catheterizing based on your specific condition, average fluid intake, as well as other health and lifestyle factors. Once all the factors are taken into consideration, your doctor should be able to prescribe a self-cathing routine that best meets your needs.

Just like brushing your teeth, creating a habit around when you self-cath can have multiple benefits.  

Having a regular self-cathing routine may:

  • Help reduce the risk of urine leaking from your bladder. Your bladder is a hollow muscle that is meant to stretch as it fills up and contract as it empties. Like other muscles, if the bladder is overstretched, it may become weak and have difficulty functioning properly, resulting in urine leakage. Without a set cathing schedule, you could risk overfilling or overstretching your bladder. Overtime this could lead to leakage or urinary incontinence.
  • Help reduce the risk of a urinary tract infection (UTI). A UTI is an infection in any part of your urinary system which includes your urethra, bladder, ureters and kidneys. The urinary system functions to remove waste from your body. Leaving urine in your bladder for a long period of time can allow bacteria to colonize in your bladder. More serious infections can occur when a lower urinary tract infection moves up into the kidneys. You can learn more about UTIs by visiting our Infection Assistance Center.
  • Allow you to feel in control. Don’t let using intermittent catheters define you. Working with your doctor and knowing how many times a day you should be cathing and when can allow you to get back to focusing on your everyday life.

Avoiding to self-cath or deviating from your prescribed cathing routine may increase the risk of complications within your urinary tract. Learn more here.

Quick tips to help stay on schedule:

  • Set reminders with an alarm. Once your routine has been created with your doctor, you can set reminder alerts on your email calendar, cellphone and/or a smart watch. These reminders can be set to a timeframe or an exact time. Either way, try to avoid hitting snooze. These alarms can help ensure you’re not missing your cathing time.
  • Keep track of your liquid intake. Especially in the beginning of practicing your routine, you may want to keep track of how much liquid you drink. If you find yourself drinking more liquids, you may need to adjust how many times you cath. Check out this helpful cathing tracker here.
  • Make adjustments if you know your activities for the day are going to be different. If you’re going on a trip or changing any aspect of your daily activities, be sure to plan accordingly. You may need to find restrooms or private areas to self-cath ahead of time.
  • Take it one day at a time. Any routine takes practice; don’t give up. With each day, you’ll start to create the habit of cathing around the same time. Just like brushing your teeth, your cathing routine can become a natural part of your everyday life.


1. Davis JE, Silverman MA. Urologic procedures.In: Roberts JR, Custalow CB, Thomsen TW, eds. Roberts and Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine and Acute Care. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 55.
2. Tailly T, Denstedt JD. Fundamentals of urinary tract drainage. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Partin AW, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 6.

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Adjusting to cathing can be tough, with a range of practical, physical and emotional challenges. You don’t have to figure it out alone. Call and talk to a member of the me+ support team today. Call 1-800-422-8811 (M-F, 8:30 AM-7:00 PM ET).