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After surgery you’ll have a thin tube called a catheter in your penis. This is to drain urine out of the body if you can’t control when you urinate. You’ll usually have the catheter for about one to three weeks after surgery – and there’s a few things you’ll need to think about to make sure that you keep it clean and avoid infection. 

The dos and don’ts of catheter care


  • shower or bath with a catheter – but a shower is better
  • drink plenty of fluids to prevent urine infections and stop the catheter getting blocked (1.5 to 2 litres, or 3 to 4 pints a day)
  • make sure the catheter tube isn’t twisted or bent, as this will stop the urine draining properly
  • make sure you keep the catheter below the level of the bladder
  • always wash your hands with warm soapy water before and after touching your catheter
  • try to wash the area around where the catheter enters the body twice a day using a downward motion/downward strokes to prevent infection
  • use warm soapy water and a wash cloth that you only use for the area around the catheter tube
  • dry carefully after washing.



  • do pelvic floor muscle exercises with your catheter in
  • do any heavy lifting, or try to avoid this as much as possible
  • strain when you urinate
  • let the leg bag get too full – make sure you empty it regularly
  • use scented soap or talcum powder.

Remember, it’s common after surgery for the urine in your catheter to be a pink, rose or rusty colour. But if this lasts more than 48 hours, or it’s bright red, contact your GP or district nurse.

Travelling with a catheter

If you use a catheter and are travelling or going abroad:

  • Take a spare catheter and plenty of extra drainage bags and catheter valves with you.
  • Speak to your nurse about caring for your catheter while you’re away.
  • Ask your doctor for a letter called a medical validation certificate that explains what your catheter equipment is for. It may make things easier if customs officials decide to search your bag. Some catheter delivery services may deliver abroad if necessary.

Colin's story: Dealing with a catheter

"You can go out and not worry about going for a wee"

Colin went home with a catheter after surgery to remove his prostate. In this video, he talks about what it felt like and how he adjusted.

Dealing with feelings

 Colin found it helpful to change how he viewed having a catheter. Find out how some other men have dealt with their feelings about their urinary problems.