Home » Advice Centre » Continence » Catheter Problems

Catheter Problems Page Contents

Catheter Problems

There are different sorts of issues and complications that can arise when you use a urinary catheter.

We go through some of the more common catheter problems that may occur and suggest some helpful tips for things that you can do to combat or even prevent them.

How to unblock a catheter

If your catheter becomes blocked you should:

  • Empty the drainage bag, so you can better see if it begins to drain
  • Lift the drainage bag above the level of the bladder then lower it again, which can release any suction of the bladder wall.

If the above does not resolve the issue, contact your GP or healthcare professional.

How should catheter equipment be stored?

Store flat in the original packaging in a dry place or in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Can I work and exercise as normal with a catheter?

You can return to work, exercise or go on holiday as soon as your doctor or nurse advises.

How long can a catheter stay in a man or woman?

This depends on the material of the catheter. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) are licensed, to stay in place for 28 days. The Hydrogel coated/all silicone catheters are licensed to stay in place for 12 weeks.

Advice for sex with a catheter


You can have sex with a catheter in place. If your catheter is going to be permanent you may wish to discuss with your healthcare professional the possibility of a suprapubic catheter.


You can leave the catheter in place, but once you have an erection, fold it under your penis and apply a condom over your penis and the catheter.

Always wash around your catheter with mild soap and water after having intercourse. If your catheter is going to be permanent you may wish to discuss with your healthcare professional the possibility of a suprapubic catheter.

What should I do if my catheter is leaking?

If your catheter is leaking, firstly check to see that the tube is not kinked.

Is the catheter draining? If the catheter is not draining, it could be blocked.

If this happens, contact your Community Nurse for support.

What happens if a catheter bag is full?

A catheter bag needs to be emptied regularly. A full catheter bag can cause leaking from the catheter site and potentially internal damage to the kidneys.

What happens if a catheter balloon is over inflated?

If a catheter balloon is overinflated it can burst and cause the catheter to fall out. Your Healthcare Professional will ensure the volume of water used to inflate the balloon is limited to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

What happens if a catheter is left in too long?

If a catheter is left in too long, the material can perish. Encrustation can form around the balloon. It can cause urinary infections, tissue damage, or bleeding.

What happens if I pull my catheter out?

If you pull your catheter out it can cause tissue damage. If you have done this, it’s important that you contact a Healthcare Professional for support.

Can I fly with a catheter?

If travelling abroad with a catheter, check with your airline before travelling for advice on flying with a catheter and carrying medical products. Split products between your hand and hold luggage. Some airlines will allow extra baggage allowance – check with them if you are eligible.

The key is to plan ahead and take enough supplies, more than usually used. Some airlines require a current prescription or doctor’s letter to confirm the product is prescribed to the named person.

Ordering catheters for home delivery

Catheter orders can be placed with Fittleworth by sending us your prescription in the freepost envelope provided, by calling our Freephone number 0800 378 846 or through placing an order online.

You do not need to visit your GP practice to collect your prescription, your GP can send it to us electronically, saving you time, or we can collect the prescription from your GP if they agree. We will take care of the rest, delivering the right products discreetly on time and without fuss.