How Long Can an Intermittent Catheter Stay In?

Intermittent catheters are a crucial part of managing urinary incontinence or retention for many individuals. They offer an effective and safe method to empty the bladder when it’s not possible to do so naturally. However, one common question often arises: how long can an intermittent catheter stay in?

An intermittent urinary catheter is designed for short-term use, typically just long enough to drain the bladder and then be removed immediately afterward. Unlike indwelling (Foley) catheters that remain inside the body for extended periods, intermittent catheters are meant for temporary usage.

In general, each instance of intermittent self-catheterization should take about 5-10 minutes – from insertion to removal after your bladder has been emptied. Therefore, unlike permanent or semi-permanent options like Foley catheters which can stay inserted for weeks at a time under medical supervision, intermittent ones don’t actually “stay” in.

Why Remove Intermittent Urinary Catheters After Use?

As mentioned above, an intermittent catheter is designed for short-term use. It’s inserted to drain the bladder and then removed right away. The use of an ‘in-and-out’ approach reduces the chance of contracting a urinary tract infection (UTI). 

Ensure that you are utilizing the catheter system appropriately to gain these advantages. To help with this, we recommend kits like the Advance Plus Touch Free Intermittent Catheter Kit. Its ease of use makes self-catheterization safe and straightforward.

If you prefer another option, consider the Apogee Plus Touch Free Intermittent Catheter System Kit. The sterile design promotes independence while keeping your health and safety in mind.

Remember: While convenience matters, nothing beats following proper usage guidelines for maintaining good urinary health. Be sure to consult with a medical professional to determine if these kits (and intermittent catheters overall) are right for your situation. 

Understanding Intermittent Catheterization

Intermittent catheterization is a procedure often used to help manage urinary incontinence. It involves the periodic insertion of a catheter, which is essentially a thin tube, into the bladder to drain urine.

This process lets individuals with certain medical conditions empty their bladders safely and effectively. But it’s not just about relief; intermittent catheterization can also protect your kidneys from damage caused by high pressure due to an overfilled bladder.

This process can significantly improve your quality of life when done correctly and safely. It’s always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about how long an intermittent urinary catheter should stay in or other aspects related to its use.

Benefits of Intermittent Catheters

Intermittent catheters are imperative for people managing urinary incontinence. But why, you ask? Well, let’s take a look at the advantages.

  • Bladder Control: First off, these devices give users greater control over their bladder function. This means no more worrying about accidental leaks or having to plan your day around bathroom breaks. You can say goodbye to those embarrassing ‘uh-oh’ moments.
  • Lower Infection Risk: The second benefit is less risk of infection compared to indwelling catheters. Research shows that using intermittent catheterization significantly reduces the chance of developing urinary tract infections (UTIs).
  • Portable & Easy To Use: There are numerous intermittent catheter products tailored specifically to different use cases. Medical Monks has several intermittent catheter kits that come prepackaged with everything you need – gloves included. It’s convenience and peace of mind packed into one small kit.

Risks of Leaving a Catheter In Too Long

Understanding the risks associated with leaving an intermittent catheter in for extended periods is crucial to maintaining optimal health. An intermittent urinary catheter, which is designed for short-term use, can lead to serious complications if left in place longer than recommended.

The most common risk associated with prolonged use of an intermittent urinary catheter is infection. In particular, the longer the catheter remains in place after use, the greater the chance bacteria have to travel up into your bladder and cause a urinary tract infection (UTI). 

Besides UTIs, other potential complications include:

  • Bladder damage: These are hard deposits of minerals that form inside your bladder due to concentrated urine caused by inadequate drainage from the bladder.
  • Blood infections: Known as sepsis, this potentially life-threatening complication occurs when bacteria enter your bloodstream through the urinary tract.
  • Tissue damage: This happens when a poorly inserted or ill-fitting catheter causes trauma to urethral tissues leading to scarring and stricture formation over time.

Improper supplies and use may increase these risk factors significantly. That’s why it’s crucial to follow the directions when using intermittent catheters and establish a routine of safe and hygienic practices.

Safety Tips When Using An Intermittent Urinary Catheter

Using an intermittent urinary catheter can be a crucial part of many individuals’ daily routines. Ensuring that the process is safe and free from complications not only enhances comfort but also prevents potential health risks. Here are some basic tips to consider when using an intermittent catheter: 

  • Cleanliness: Always wash your hands thoroughly before handling any part of the device. This reduces the chances of introducing bacteria into your system which could lead to infections like UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections).
  • Lubrication: Ensure you properly lubricate the tip of the device before insertion – this will make the process smoother and reduce potential discomfort during removal too.
  • Avoid reuse: While some types of intermittent catheters are designed for multiple uses, many are single-use only. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on this to prevent potential complications.

Also, keep in mind that discomfort isn’t normal. If insertion hurts or feels wrong in any way – stop right away.

Remember that an intermittent urinary catheter is designed for temporary relief from bladder retention problems. If long-term management is required, discuss with your healthcare provider about potential options. 


To recap the question – how long can an intermittent catheter stay in? Short answer: not very long. Staying safe means following best practices and understanding the risks associated with prolonged use.

Also, keep in mind that following instructions while accounting for cleanliness and proper lubrication can make for a smooth experience. Using our top-recommended intermittent catheter kits can make this much easier as well. 

In essence, managing urinary health isn’t as daunting when armed with the knowledge and practical tools at hand.

The MEDICAL MONKS STAFF brings to the table decades of combined knowledge and experience in the medical products industry.

Edited for content by ADAM PAGE.

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