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What Is the Difference Between a Male Urethral Catheter and a Female Catheter?

A male or female catheter is used to empty the bladder when an individual is unable to urinate or suffers from urinary incontinence. A doctor may recommend a male or female catheter if you have had an injury or surgery, urinary blockage, or a medical condition that makes it difficult to control urination.


When Would Self-Catheterization Be Needed?

It may be necessary to catheterize yourself following certain surgeries or if you experience urinary retention or incontinence. The process may sound intimidating, but most patients are able to do it with a little practice. Catheterizing yourself on an intermittent basis reduces the chances of infections and other complications associated with indwelling catheters. The process is also more discreet since you do not necessarily need to have a catheter bag. Most patients empty their bladder every four to six hours. You should always empty your bladder first thing in the morning and just before you go to bed at night. You may need to empty your bladder more often if you drink a lot of fluids.

Is Using an Intermittent Urinary Catheter Painful?

It is normal to be nervous or frightened at the prospect of self-catheterization. While it is true that it does take some practice and time to get used to the process, it is normally not painful. Moistening the tip of the male or female catheter with a water-based lubricant and taking a deep breath to help you relax may make self-catheterization easier.

What Is the Process for Emptying and Cleaning a Catheter Bag?

Depending on your specific type of catheter, the urine may drain into a catheter bag. The following are the basic steps for emptying and cleaning the bag:

  • Start by washing your hands to prevent contaminating the catheter and bag.
  • If necessary, take the drainage tube out of the pocket on the bag.
  • While holding the drainage tube over the toilet, open the valve to release the urine.
  • Once the bag is empty, use an alcohol wipe to clean the tip of the drainage valve.
  • Close the drainage valve and reinsert it back into the pocket.
  • You should follow your provider’s instructions for cleaning the catheter insertion site, as well as cleaning or changing any tubing.
  • You can periodically clean the bag using a solution of 2 parts vinegar to 3 parts water or 1 tablespoon bleach mixed with a half cup of water.

Wound Dressing

What Is the Best Way to Care for a Wound Dressing?

In general, you want to make sure that a wound dressing stays clean, dry, and intact. When caring for a wound, you always want to make sure that your hands, supplies, and surrounding environment are as clean as possible to prevent infection. The specific steps, such as how often to change the dressing, can vary slightly based on the type of wound and the type of wound care supplies used. Your MD Now provider will provide you with detailed instructions for caring for your dressing before you leave.

What Are Alginate Wound Dressing Products?

Alginate wound dressings are typically used for wounds and lacerations that are wet or secreting, and wounds containing a significant amount of dead tissue. Examples of wounds that may require an alginate dressing include surgical lacerations or incisions, chronic diabetic or venous ulcers, full-thickness burns, cavity wounds, and wounds on parts of the body where it is difficult to apply ordinary dressings. Alginate dressings should not be used on wounds that are already dry.

The following is the basic process for using an alginate dressing:

  • Clean the wound and the surrounding area with a saline solution.
  • Gently pat the area dry.
  • Cut the dressing to the correct size and shape of the wound.
  • Place the dressing over the wound making sure that the entire wound is covered.
  • When using a rope alginate dressing for a cavity wound, make sure that you fill the entire wound, including any tunneling.
  • Secure the alginate dressing in place with a secondary dressing.
  • Change the dressing when you start to see fluid discharge leaking from the edges of the dressing. This is normally every one to three days.

What Is a Hydrogel Wound Dressing?

Hydrogel dressings are made of 90% water in a gel base and are designed to hold moisture at the wound site to create the proper environment for healing and for pain management. There are three basic types of hydrogel wound care products:

  • An amorphous free-flowing gel that comes in spray bottles, foil packages, and tubes
  • Gauze pads or nonwoven spongy ropes or strips that are saturated with the gel
  • Sheets that are held together by a fiber mesh

Hydrogel dressings can be easily customized to the size of the wound and are typically used in the following situations:

  • Excessively dry or necrotic wounds
  • Minor burns
  • Partial or full-thickness lesions
  • Wounds with cavities or depressions

Hydrogel dressings should not be used for wounds that are moist or have heavy drainage. The following are the basic steps for caring for a hydrogel dressing:

  • Apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment onto the wound before applying the hydrogel.
  • Place the appropriately sized hydrogel onto the wound bed making sure that the entire wound is covered.
  • Cover the hydrogel with breathable cotton gauze to hold the gel in place and prevent it from dehydrating.
  • Change the dressing every four days, or less if the wound starts draining.
  • When using an amorphous hydrogel dressing, you should clean any excess hydrogel from the wound with saline before applying a new dressing.
  • When removing sheet or impregnated gauze hydrogel, you should soak the dressing with saline first. This will make it easier to pull off the hydrogel.

The content provided on the MD Now website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for receiving medical care and treatment from a qualified healthcare provider. Never delay seeking advice, evaluation, and treatment from a medical professional because of what you’ve read on this site, since the information provided may not apply to you or your symptoms.