Frequently Asked Questions

We have put together some of the frequently asked questions on catheterisation and other urology care products. If you can’t find the answer to your questions below, why not email us at and one of our specialists will help you, or put you in touch with someone who can.

How much should I drink each day?

You should drink enough to keep your urine clear and straw coloured. This can be easily achieved by drinking 2-3 pints of water or fruit juice per day. Cranberry juice in particular has been shown to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections, however this is not recommended for patients taking Warfarin (also known under the brand names Coumadin, Jantoven, Marevan, Lawarin, and Waran) or for patients with MS, according to NICE guidelines. Do check with your Doctor or Nurse if you have any concerns.

Do I need to eat a special diet?

A normal diet containing enough fruit, vegetables and cereals that stop you becoming constipated is recommended.

Urine is leaking along the sides of the catheter instead of into the leg bag. What’s happening?

This is called “bypassing” and can be due to something as simple as a kink in the catheter or drainage bag tube. It could also happen if you are constipated so drink plenty of fluids and include plenty of fibre and vegetables in your diet. The catheter could also leak due to a blockage or spasm in your bladder. If you are in any doubt speak to your Nurse or Doctor.

Sometimes urine will not drain into my leg bag. Why?

This might be because the leg bag, or the tube to the leg bag, is higher than your bladder as the urine will obviously not flow up-hill. Always make sure to wear the leg bag at a lower level to your bladder. For instance, if you sit in a chair with your feet up, or cross your legs, the leg bag could be above the bladder.

My urine has changed colour! Why?

There are many reasons for changes in urine colour. It may occur if you eat a lot of certain vegetables: beetroot can turn urine purple and asparagus, green. A chemical reaction that occurs in some people causes urine to turn purple. If you notice your urine has a pink or red tinge, it could signify an infection or other medical condition, so do contact your Doctor or Nurse about it.

What is a “Fire polished eyelet” and why is it important?

The term fire polished eyelet came from when a physician was making catheters from glass tubing. The tubing was cut and the ends were smoothed out by the flame of a Bunsen burner. The eyelets on today’s PVC catheters are made through a combination of a very special cutting tool and the application of heat to create a smooth edge for the eyelet. The smoothness of the eyelet is very important because without it there is a greater chance of trauma to the urethra leading to potential complications and infections.

I use intermittent catheters, how can I prevent UTIs?

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) affect millions of people each year and rank as the second most common type of body infection. Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) are the most common nosocomial (acute care and extended care facilities) infection.

1. Use only Premuim Catheters with Polished eyelets.

Some catheters use a lower cost manufacturing technique to cut out the eyelet in the catheter leaving the edge sharp. This type of eyelet can cause trauma to the urethral lining. If the urethral lining is compromised bacteria can invade the body causing a urinary tract infection. Premium quality catheters have polished eyelets with very smooth edges.

2. Don’t Reuse Catheters

While washing and reusing catheters may work for some, many people experience recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs). Studies show that sterile use (using a urinary catheter one time and disposing of it) can reduce urinary tract infections. Most major insurance companies including Medicare, Medicaids and even VA cover sterile, single use catheters. Reusing catheters can lead to infections which can compromise long term health. The FDA guidelines state that all urinary catheters are to be considered single-use only devices. You can find these guidelines stamped on any intermittent catheter packaging.

3. Hydrophillic Catheters can Help Reduce Infection

Hydrophilic catheters help you avoid discomfort and infection by reducing friction and trauma to the urethra.1 Hydrophilic catheters have a coating of lubrication that is bound to the catheter surface and is activated by water. The type of lubricant has a much lower friction coefficient, which is to say that they are much more slippery than those that use a gel lubricant. Since the catheter’s pre-lubricated coating is activated by sterile water, there is no need to touch it, lessening the risk for contamination by stray bacteria or pathogens that might be on your hands.

4. Use a Catheter with an Introducer Tip, such as a Closed System Catheter

Most closed systems have an added safety feature called an introducer or insertion tip. The introducer tip allows the pre-lubricated urinary catheter to bypass the highest concentrations of bacteria located in the first few millimeters of the urethra, rather than pushing that bacteria further into the urethra during insertion. This will help fight against infections.2

5. Learn the Correct Way to Catheterize

Learning how to catheterize correctly can help you avoid irritation and infections that can occur when an incorrect technique is performed. Your healthcare provider will be able to provide this training for you. If you should feel resistance when you insert the catheter or see any bleeding while you catheterize stop immediately and consult your healthcare professional.

Use Insertion Supplies

Insertion supplies are conveniently packaged alongside the urinary catheter in most closed system kits, many hydrophilic catheters, and some intermittent catheters to help create a sterile environment. Insertion supplies typically include sterile gloves, benzalkonium chloride wipes, PVP (Povodone-Iodine) wipes or swabs, a collection bag and an underpad.

Where can I find help?

You can Contact Us, or visit the Associations page which will help you get started.

If you have any other questions, speak to your Doctor or Nurse.

This guide has been produced in consultation with Lynne Owen, Clinical Nurse Specialist/Continence Advisor, ABMU Health Board.

1 Stensballe J, Looms D, Nielsen PN, Tvede M. Hydrophilic-Coated Catheters Shown To Reduce Urethral Microtrauma When Used For Clean Intermittent Catheterization. Eur Urol. 2005 Dec;48(6):978-83

2Bennett, CJ, MN Young, SS Razi, R. Adkins, F. Diaz, and A. McCrary The Effect of Urethral Introducer Tip Catheters on the Incidence of Urinary Tract Infection Outcomes in Spinal Cord Injured Patients. The Journal of Urology, Vol 157, June 1997

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