It can be difficult to adjust to life with a urinary catheter, especially when you’ve never had to use one before. Fortunately, many intermittent catheter systems offer convenience and comfort. Deciding which one to use can seem challenging, but closed system catheters are a great place to begin.

While it can be difficult to empty your bladder while you’re away from the comforts of home, a closed system catheter can make the process easier for you. A single-use system that comes with a catheter and collection bag, it eliminates the need to immediately empty the urine into a toilet.

Learn more about this intermittent catheter system, its benefits, and considerations when choosing one. Talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns or questions you may have.

What is a closed system catheter?

An indwelling catheter stays inside the body for long periods. Self-catheterization allows a user to empty their bladder anywhere private, even in the absence of a toilet.

Who can use closed system catheters?

Anyone who cannot empty their bladders naturally can use a urinary catheter. It is also common for people to use them daily to manage bladder issues caused by other health conditions.

For children, catheterization can begin at any age as part of their bladder management program. Youth suffering from spina bifida, spinal cord injuries, and neurological conditions can require catheterization.

What’s in a closed system catheter kit?

Various manufacturers create highly similar kits, with the only differences being the inclusion of antiseptic wipes, gloves, additional lubrication, and the like. Each kit usually comes with a pre-lubricated introducer tip covered with a catheter cap and contained within a collection bag. Some kits also come in easy-to-open packaging to help individuals with limited hand dexterity.

What are the benefits?

  • It is sterile and mess-free.

Closed system catheters are usually called “no-touch” catheters. When used correctly, you can self-catheterize without directly touching the tube, reducing the risk of bacterial contamination and other accidents.

  • It gives you more control.

A healthcare professional may advise you to use your intermittent catheter at regular intervals or when you need to urinate. So, you can go out in public without worrying about finding a nearby bathroom. You can simply self-catheterize in a private space.

  • It is highly portable.

A closed system catheter is designed for single use and packaged for discreet carrying. A patient simply empties their bladder, disposes of the kit, and continues with the rest of their day.

  • It reduces the risk of urinary tract infections (UTI).

A closed system catheter kit comes with an introducer tip that passes the urethra by a few millimeters and reduces the risk of contamination, which can lead to urinary tract infections.

  • It can be used both as a short- and long-term solution for bladder management.

Prolonged use of indwelling catheters can result in infections, leaks, blockages, and other complications. On the other hand, intermittent catheters have been shown to minimize the risk of several complications, including urinary tract infections, strictures, bladder stones, and urinary tract deterioration.

How will this affect my lifestyle?

Closed system catheters are popular because they give an individual control over their bladder without compromising their lifestyle. Whether you enjoy physical exercise or want to get intimate with your partner, an intermittent catheter shouldn’t get in the way of your daily life. Rather, it is designed to make bladder management easy for you.

However, keep in mind that using a catheter system comes with a learning curve and several responsibilities. It is important to learn how to use the closed system catheter correctly in order to decrease chances of complications. This includes everything from choosing the correct catheter size to disposing of the closed system catheter kit.

Meanwhile, long-term responsibilities include maintaining a catheterization schedule and monitoring urine output. This will be vital in maintaining a healthy bladder and seeking medical advice when necessary.

What should I consider when using a closed system catheter?

  • Choose the correct catheter size.

A catheter is measured by the diameter of its opening or its “French size.” Using a smaller or larger catheter than necessary can result in leakage, discomfort, and more. It’s best to ask for professional help when determining the right catheter for you.

  • Lubricate your catheter adequately.

Catheters can cause friction and discomfort without lubrication. Choosing a hydrophilic catheter—a catheter with a pre-lubricated coating—will make it easier to self-catheterize and position the tube correctly. Some kits also come with additional lubrication should you need to add more.

  • Keep a schedule in mind.

Maintaining a healthy urinary tract is crucial for individuals who use catheters. Failure to empty the bladder can cause a number of health problems, so it’s important to make sure you catheterize anywhere between four to six times a day. You can opt to keep a timetable or a loose schedule depending on what your body tells you.

  • Stay calm and find a comfortable position.

Staying calm will help muscles relax and decrease muscle resistance facilitating the self-catheterization process. Find a position that makes things easy for you, and take a deep breath before continuing. Women might find it easier to catheterize while standing with a leg propped up, while men generally prefer a sitting position. 

  • Take your time.

Like all other skills, self-catheterizing requires practice. You may go slowly to avoid pain. When you start to feel discomfort, stop for a few seconds to breathe and then resume inserting the catheter slowly. Things should get easier with time, and you’ll soon be able to self-catheterize with ease.

How do I find the right closed system catheter for me?

There are many closed system catheters to choose from, and making a decision can seem daunting even to seasoned users. Better Health can take the guesswork out of the process by providing you with a wealth of resources on several options and valuable insights from product experts. Visit to learn more about closed system catheters and other catheter systems.

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