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Common questions

There are many questions about sexuality and incontinence. If your question isn't answered below you can call the National Continence Helpline 1800 33 00 66 for a confidential discussion with a Continence Nurse Advisor.

What if I'm incontinent or my catheter leaks during sexual activity?

Try to empty your bladder prior to sexual intimacy. Be prepared by protecting the bed and have towels and washcloths ready. You could also discuss your fluid intake with your doctor, including the types of fluids you are drinking, and assess your alcohol consumption.

What do I do with a catheter if I want to have intercourse?

A catheter can be removed prior to sexual intimacy and a new one inserted. This may not be economically viable for some people, but if possible, it should be considered. For men a catheter can be taped to the shaft of the penis, allowing for an erection. If friction is a concern, a condom may be worn and KY jelly used for lubrication.

Will my partner catch a urinary tract infection from my catheter?

If your parter is in good health, it is unlikely that they would be susceptible to the organisms associated with a urinary catheter. If there is any doubt, encourage your partner to wash themselves after intercourse and drink plenty of fluids.

I'm worried about being able to get an erection and ejaculate

Having a catheter in place should not affect an erection or ejaculation. An erection is a combination of 'thinking' (psychogenic) and 'touching' (reflexogenic) responses and it is possible that anxiety may affect the 'thinking' responses. If you experience difficulty, it is important to find out the exact cause of the impotence and this may mean a referral to a Urologist. Sometimes, however, a catheter can have the opposite effect and cause spontaneous erections due to the friction.

I'm worried about the smell of my urine, especially when I have a urinary tract infection

Certain types of chronic (ongoing) infections can produce strong or offensive smells. It is a good idea to wash yourself regularly and even during intimate times as part of foreplay.

I don't like the look of the drainage bag and I'm worried about being intimate with someone, because of their reaction to it

A leg drainage bag may be covered or put out of the way. It is a good idea to talk to a prospective partner before sexual intimacy about the equipment you use so that they know what to expect. Sometimes a catheter can be temporarily spigotted (sealed off) and the leg bag removed.