Treatments and tests

Your lifestyle with a catheter

You can still lead a normal lifestyle when you are using a catheter including:

  • going on holiday
  • socialising in clubs
  • visiting family and friends. 

If planning a holiday, you may wish to seek advice from your nurse or doctor.

They can advise what equipment you need to take with you, especially if you are going overseas.

Drainage bags can sometimes be damaged. If you have a spare with you it’s easy to change the bag in the nearest toilet. This will avoid any leakage problems.

Is diet important?

If you have a suprapubic or indwelling urinary catheter, it is important not to become constipated.

The bowel lies close to the bladder and pressure from a full bowel can result in obstruction in the flow of urine down the catheter or urinary leakage through the urethra (channel you urinate down).

Likewise, if you strain to have your bowels open you may have urine leakage. This can occur with both drainage bags and catheter valves.

A diet consisting of plenty of fibre will help prevent constipation. Examples of high fibre foods include:

  • wholemeal grains
  • fresh fruit
  • vegetables. 

If you are prone to constipation and you have your own methods of prevention, please discuss these with your nurse.

Please also let your nurse know if you are taking medication for constipation.

Fluid intake

Unless advised otherwise by your doctor or nurse, it is important to drink at least 1.5 to 2 L of fluid per day to:

  • keep your urine clear and flowing
  • help prevent infection and constipation.

The best way to achieve this is to have a drink every hour from the time you get up until you go to bed at night.

Avoid strong coffee and tea, fizzy drinks and excessive alcohol.

Cranberry juice has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of urinary tract infection (cystitis).

However, cranberry may cause you problems if you take certain tablets or medications.

It is very important that you do not start to take cranberry juice or tablets, particularly if you are taking warfarin, until you have discussed this with your doctor.

If you notice your urine becoming dark (concentrated) it can be a warning that you are not drinking enough fluid.

Your urine should be a clear lemon colour.

However, there are certain things that can discolour urine such as:

  • multivitamins
  • foods such as beetroot.

If you notice your urine is blood stained, increase your fluid intake and seek medical advice immediately.

What if I am out and need to use a catheter?

If you are using self-intermittent catheters it will become easy to do when you are out. The only equipment you will need to carry with you include:

  • wipes
  • your catheter
  • lubricating gel.

Will I get wet between catheters?

Initially while you are establishing your routine you may leak.

If you do, you will work with your doctor or nurse to identify why and try to fix it.

This may involve using:

  • medication to calm the bladder
  • exercises
  • in some cases surgery.

Remember, the aim is to keep you dry between catheters.

You may also leak if you get a urine infection, in which case you will need to see your GP for treatment.

Where to get help


Royal Perth Hospital

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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