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Living With A Suprapubic Catheter

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Mar 18, 2023

Living With A Suprapubic Catheter

If you have problems urinating on your own, a suprapubic catheter is a method to remove urine from your body. Through a stomach incision, a tube is inserted into your bladder. Then, your urine drains into a bag outside of your body, usually strapped to your leg. This type of catheter may be required for cancer patients who have a damaged or blocked urethra and who are unable to pass urine on their own.

How to Maintain a Suprapubic Catheter

Your catheter needs to be changed frequently, around four to six weeks after they implant it. After that, unless there is an issue that requires you to replace it immediately, you should be able to change it on your own, which is once every one to three months. You’ll receive instructions from your doctor to follow at home. It’s crucial to maintain your cleanliness. Every day, take a bath or shower, and always wash your hands with soap and water before touching the catheter.

Additionally, you must keep the catheter clean. Every day, rinse it off with boiled, then cooled water. A sterile saline (salt) solution can also be used. Apply hydrogen peroxide diluted in water to the area around the catheter if there is any remaining dried blood or mucus. Make sure there are no twists in the catheter tube and that it hangs below your bladder to ensure that urine flows freely. If you insert a new catheter and notice blood in your urine, don’t be alarmed. This is typical and will resolve in 24 hours. If it doesn’t, consult your doctor

How to Maintain a Drainage Bag

The drainage bag that most suprapubic catheters include holds your pee until you can empty it into a toilet or other container. Many people carry a large bag at night and a smaller one during the day. Both types should be emptied when they are halfway or slightly more than full.

Please remember to wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling the bag. Also, avoid letting it touch the toilet or any other object/ surface. This will prevent infections. Your drainage bags need to be changed frequently, much like your catheters. Depending on the type of bag, it can be every week or month. You must immediately replace the bag if there is a leak, rip, or odor.

When a bag is empty, wrap it up and dispose of it in the garbage.

Some catheters lack a bag and instead contain a valve. You need to open the valve to allow the urine flow into the toilet or a receptacle. When it’s closed, the urine remains in your bladder. Be sure to wash your hands before touching the valve.

To ensure good health and regular urination, drink 1.5 to 2 quarts of fluid each day. Water and juice, particularly cranberry juice, are best to prevent urinary tract infections. Avoid tea, coffee, and fizzy beverages that contain caffeine.

Stay Active Even With a Catheter

You should be able to drive, go to work, and engage in physical activity while you have a suprapubic catheter. You can even swim as long as the water is clean. You can get small drainage bags that can be hidden under your bathing suit.

Tip: If you’re active, tape or strap the catheter tube to your stomach or legs to prevent accidentally pulling it out. This also ensures that the drainage bag stays hidden under your clothes.  You can also prevent skin irritation if you regularly switch the leg that the bag rests on.

When to Call Your Physician

If you’re experiencing problems changing your catheter, call your doctor straight away. Also, get in touch with your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Chills or a fever, which could indicate an infection.
  • If the catheter doesn’t empty any pee, it may be clogged.
  • Pee leaks around the catheter (this is typical with a fresh one and will eventually cease).
  • Around the area where the doctor inserted the catheter, the skin can become inflamed.
  • See blood in your pee even after 24 hours.
  • Urinary spasms. (They are typical for the first several weeks after getting a new catheter, but your doctor may be able to prescribe medication to relieve them.) You may have a urinary tract infection if your urine seems hazy.
  • If your urine has an unpleasant odor or changes from its natural light yellow hue.

Learn more about Cancer here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Mar 18, 2023

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