Clean Intermittent Catheterization, Female

ExitCare ImageClean intermittent catheterization (CIC) refers to emptying urine from the bladder with a small, flexible tube (catheter).  The bladder is an organ in the body that stores urine. Urine may need to be drained from your bladder with a catheter if:

  • There is an obstruction to the flow of urine out of the bladder or through the urinary tract.

  • The bladder muscles or nerves are not functioning properly to allow normal flow of urine out of the bladder.

Emptying the bladder regularly will help prevent further permanent bladder or kidney damage.


You will need:

  • The specific type and size of catheter as directed by your caregiver.

  • Water-soluble, lubricating jelly (if the catheter is not pre-lubricated). Do not use an oil-based lubricant.

  • A warm, soapy washcloth or pre-moistened wipes.

  • A container to collect the urine (if you are not using the toilet).

  • A container or bag to store the catheter.


Follow these steps for a clean technique:

  1. Collect supplies and place them within your reach.

  2. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

  3. Get in a comfortable position. Positions include:

    • Sitting forward-facing or backward-facing on a toilet, wheelchair, chair, or edge of bed. It may be helpful to sit forward-facing with a mirror on a stool positioned to help you view the opening of the urethra. Or sit backward-facing on a toilet with a mirror positioned between the toilet lid and toilet seat to help you view the opening of the urethra.

    • Standing beside the toilet with one foot on the toilet rim.

    • Lying down with your head raised on pillows.

  4. Position the collection container between your legs (if you are not using the toilet).

  5. Urinate (if you are able).

  6. Place water-soluble, lubricating jelly on about 2 inches (5 cm) of the tip of the catheter (if the catheter is not pre-lubricated).

  7. Set the catheter down on a clean, dry surface within reach.

  8. Spread the labia folds open.

  9. Wash the labia with the warm, soapy washcloth or pre-moistened wipes. Wash from front to back.

  10. Hold the labia open with one hand.

  11. Relax.

  12. Insert the catheter gently into the urethra opening in an upward and backward direction until urine starts to flow, usually 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm).

  13. When urine starts to flow, insert the catheter about 1 inch (3 cm) more.

  14. When the urine stops flowing, strain or gently push on the lower abdominal muscles to help the bladder drain fully.

  15. Gently pull the catheter out.

  16. Wash the labia and genital area.

  17. Report any changes in the urine to your caregiver.

  18. Discard the urine.

  19. If you are using a multiple use catheter, wash the catheter as directed by your caregiver. Rinse. Allow to air dry. Store the catheter in a clean, dry container or bag.

  20. Wash your hands.


  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of fluid each day. Avoid caffeine. Caffeine may make you have to urinate more frequently and more urgently.

  • Empty your bladder every 4 to 6 hours or as directed by your caregiver.

  • Perform a CIC if you have symptoms of too much urine in your bladder (overdistension), and you are not able to urinate. Symptoms of overdistension include:

  • Restlessness.

  • Sweating or chills.

  • Headache.

  • Flushed or pale color.

  • Cold limbs.

  • Bloated lower abdomen.

  • Discard a multiple use catheter when it becomes dry, brittle, or cloudy (usually after 1 week of use).

  • Take all medications as directed by your caregiver.


  • You are having trouble performing any of the steps.

  • You are leaking urine.

  • You have pain when you urinate.

  • You notice blood in your urine.

  • You feel the need to empty your bladder (void) often.

  • Your urine is cloudy or smells different.

  • You have pain in your abdomen.

  • You develop a rash or sores.


  • You have a fever or persistent symptoms for more than 72 hours.

  • You have a fever and your symptoms suddenly get worse.

  • Your pain becomes severe.