Clean intermittent self-catheterization (CISC) for men

Your doctor may recommend using intermittent catheters to empty your bladder. These catheters are designed to be inserted at various times in the day. (Other kinds of catheters, such as indwelling, also known as Foley, remain in the bladder all the time.). According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), you’ll need to self-catheterize “at least every six hours and at bedtime.” Please consult your doctor on how often you should catheterize.

Clean Intermittent Self-Catheterization (CISC) is used to manage emptying the bladder for those with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, enlarged prostate, and other conditions that affect normal bladder function.

With the intermittent catheter, your doctor will give you instruction on how to insert the catheter. You may also receive materials from the catheter’s manufacturer detailing how to use that particular brand and model.

For men, the steps below are a general description of CISC.


Step #1

Get all of your supplies ready, including a straight, coudé or closed catheter, soap and water, a clean washcloth, water-soluble lubricant (but not petroleum-based products) and a plastic bag to dispose of the used catheter. If your doctor has asked you to measure your urine output, make sure you have a container for the urine.


Step #2

Remove any clothing needed to see the penis. Some men prefer to stand while performing CISC; others prefer to sit. Either position is fine.


Step #3

Wash your hands well with soap and water, an alcohol-based hand rub or towelette, to limit the risk of infection.


Step #4

Lubricate the end of the catheter for easier insertion. Keep in mind, some catheters come pre-lubricated.


Step #5

With the soap and water, wash the tip of the penis in preparation for catheter insertion (again, this helps reduce the risk of infection).


Step #6

Holding the penis upright with one hand, use the other hand to place the lubricated end of the catheter into the urethral opening, also known as the meatus.


Step #7

Slowly and gently slide the catheter tube about 6” into the penis (make sure not to push too hard – take breaks if needed). Once the tube is inserted, you should see urine in the tube. Carefully, insert the tube 1” more.


Step #8

Place the end of the catheter tube in either the toilet or a container, if you need to measure your output.


Step #9

Allow the urine to empty from the bladder through the catheter tube. Once the urine flow has ended, carefully remove the catheter and discard.

A note about different catheter types

Talk to your doctor or read the manufacturer’s instructions for different insertion techniques when using the following catheters.

Hydrophilic Catheters have a special coating that becomes extremely slippery when wet. The catheter is “activated” when placed in sterile water. Hydrophilic catheters do not need to be lubricated with jelly before insertion.

Closed-System Catheters include a self-contained bag that collects the urine while protecting the catheter from infection-causing bacteria. Some have a special insertion tip that allows the catheter to bypass the first few millimeters of the urethra, where most bacteria is located.


Related articles:
Common questions and answers about urinary catheters
Catheters and health care coverage