You are here

Intermittent Self Catheterisation for Females

Self catheterisation is a simple procedure where you pass a catheter regularly into the bladder to assist in the drainage of urine.

It can be performed when normal voiding is not possible, and to relieve the retention of urine.

The bladder must be completely emptied, regularly and should never have more than 400 - 450 mls in it.

You will be instructed on how many times a day you need to perform ISC.

The size of the catheter used is usually 12-14 gauge.

Do not use this information unless you have already been shown how to perform intermittent self catheterisation (ISC) by a qualified health professional.

Equipment needed

  • Nelaton catheter – female.
  • Lubricant – sterile lubricant gel.
  • Jug / container for collection of urine (if toilet not available).
  • Clean container for storing clean catheter.
  • Soap and water.
  • Mirror if necessary.


  1. Wash hands.
  2. Spread labia and wash genitalia (from front to back) with soap and water then dry.
  3. Open new catheter from packaging, or prepare clean, dry catheter from container.
  4. Apply gel / lubricant to tip of catheter.
  5. Assume a comfortable position.
  6. Gently insert catheter into urinary opening, about 4-5 cms (a mirror may be used to assist in visualising urethral opening).
  7. If you insert the catheter into the vagina, remove catheter, rinse it and start again.
  8. Advance catheter until urine flows (allow urine to drain into toilet or jug).
  9. Hold catheter in place until urine stops draining, then slowly remove catheter. If the catheter does not slide out easily, take few deep breaths, gently cough, then try again.
  10. Wash hands.

Repeat procedure as discussed with your Doctor or Continence Nurse.

Care of Catheters

  • Nelaton catheters can be re-used for up to one week, if you have made the decision to reuse the catheter.
  • After use, rinse catheter under cold, running water.
  • Then wash in warm, soapy water. Rinse well, shaking to dry well.
  • Store catheter in a clean container in refrigerator (clean container between each catheter use).

Discard catheter if you develop a urinary infection on the first and last day you complete a course of antibiotics.


This information is intended as a general educational guide and may not apply to your situation. You must not rely on this information as an alternative to consultation with your urologist or other health professional.

Not all potential complications are listed, and you must talk to your urologist about the complications specific to your situation.