Many people have been doing intermittent self –catheterisation (ISC) since childhood. They had incomplete bladder emptying as a result of conditions such as Spina bifida and required catheterisation from a very early age.

Parents, carers and the child themselves were typically taught with a non-lubricated catheter and have very happily continued using that type of catheter without any or much difficulty.

Occasionally you may have wondered, what if…….. the catheter was slightly longer, the tip was more flexible or the packaging more compact. But then you push those thoughts aside and continue on using the familiar catheter you have always used (for many, many years) in a procedure so routine it has almost become automated for you, requiring little thought or reflection.

Catheters have changed markedly over the years! Research and development around catheters has been strong around the world. This is something you may not be aware of because you have not seen a continence or urology nurse for a while, and you just keep ordering the same thing that you are comfortable with or funding limitations have curbed your exploration of what else is out there.

You are creative and adaptive people. ISC doesn’t stop you doing things like going to the beach, you can drain your catheter into an empty drink container. You are maestros of ISC.

With the advent of NDIS and many young adults doing ISC transitioning from paediatric to adult health services, things are changing. Many people for the first time will have funds to access newer, more innovative (and more expensive) catheters. They will likely encounter a continence or urology nurse in this time and it can be a slightly confronting experience as they suggest a trial of a different catheter.

“But I have always used this, I have always done it this way, I am happy doing/using this thank you very much”

I wonder why the uptake of different catheters is not as rapid as the uptake of new technology. There is so much variation in catheters now. They come in compact form, pre-lubricated, no-touch, attached to a drain bag (no more empty drinks bottles required), just to mention a few. Continence and urology nurses are often well placed to show or recommend a catheter for each unique situation that is you.

I know you have managed very well until now, but be open to trying something new. Trust your nurse. This product may actually be better. It may feel smoother, reduce your urinary tract infections, fit into your beaded evening bag for that special night out. Free samples can usually be arranged without having to commit to buying a box full and then deciding it is not for you. Lots of people the world over have embraced these new products (they just aren’t crowing about it on Facebook).

Time for a change. If you have ever had a, “what if” thought surrounding your ISC then contact your Continence or Urology nurse and make some enquiries.

We may be craving familiarity in times like these but don’t let that hold you back from exploring what is out there.


To find your nearest service, or for more information you can call the National Continence Helpline on 1800 330 066.

Article by Kerry Poole - Nurse Continence Specialist

 Kerry Poole is a Nurse Continence Specialist at the Victorian Continence Resource Centre passionate and strongly committed to working in the community helping dispel the myths about incontinence and encouraging people to seek help about their incontinence problems.