urethral dilatation for bladder retention

My urologist has recommended urethral dilatation for bladder retention which is causing hydronephrosis in my kidneys and alot of pain.

I am wondering if anyone has had this done for retention? It doesnt make alot of sense to me. I thought it was normally done if you have blockage/ abnormally narrow urethra.

My other option is self catheterization 3X day.

Havent been officially diagnosed yet either…7 years of symptoms. No lesions on my mri 5 years ago, so thoughts of m.s. were dismissed.

Now urologist, cardiologist and GP want me retested due to worsening symptoms, especially bladder- detrusor underactivity, sphinchter muscle in ongoing spasm.

Hi, I was offered urethra stretching…which I think is what you mean, is it?

As I had zilch mobility and I went straight for the spc option.


I haven’t had it, but I know someone who’s had urethral stretching twice because of almost constant UTIs. I think that for her it helped a bit, but she is now self catheterising anyway. So certainly for that person, it didn’t exactly cure the problem and to have the procedure then end up using ISC anyway, seems like you could consider doing it the other way round, ie start with ISC and have the urethral stretching if you need it thereafter.

ISC is something that sounds more difficult than it is.


Thanks for your replies! Definately leaning towards self cathing. Can always try the stretching later if i decide although it sounds quite horrific really…

Sue, has your fried used d-mannose? i have had constant infections for 5 years due to the urinary retention. The lady at the health food store told me to give it a try-expected it not to work… that was in january, havent had an infection since! As long as i dont forget to take it twice a day! Best thing ever!

Yes, I think she has used d-mannose. It seems like it does work, I’ve used it myself, but mostly use it just when I’m away from home as holidays have been the times I’ve been most likely to get a UTI. So the last couple of holidays have been UTI free.

I should think trying ISC is a good option, it does sound more difficult than it is. Once you’re used to it, it fits into your life easily.


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I’ve just seen the urologist for retention and he did a ultrasound and confirmed I wasn’t emptying my bladder. He straight away said he’d send the continence nurse round to teach me to self catheterise. I reacted so miserably he said he’d do a cystoscopy and stretch the urethra first to see if that helps. I’m so freaked out by the thought of using a catheter for the rest of my life :frowning:

Honestly Annah, if the urethra stretching doesn’t work, it’s not the end of the world to self catheterise.

You really quickly get used to doing it, for me, it’s just a case of sit on the loo, clean with a wipe, open catheter, use it (completely empty bladder!), put used catheter in the bin, wash hands and done. Even in the middle of the night, it’s easy. It takes me longer than most to go to the loo, but that’s disability related (I can’t walk) rather than catheter related.

So, stay positive, the stretching might be all you need, but if it doesn’t, then the alternative is OK.


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Thank you Sue for being so reassuring and positive. Sometimes it all feels too much. But yes it will be a nice feeling to have an empty bladder :slight_smile:

i take longer than most to use the loo too, 3 years ago I ended up with emergency surgery and a permanent ileostomy!

Oh dear :confused:

Yes very reassuring to hear self cathing isnt that bad! i cancelled my urethra stretching and has decided to go straight to self catherizing. At least i know it will work immediately and i will have some relief.

Thanks for all the positive advice, as much as it sucks it think it will be okay…

Good luck Anna! Please let us know how it goes and if it works! Not a fun thing to deal with at all i know :frowning: Hugs to you!

feel like i’m way too young for this stuff!

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I think you’ve probably made a good decision. Just remember to ask the nurse who starts you off on ISC as many questions as you can think of. These are some of the things I wish I’d been told / thought about before starting

I thoroughly recommend have a look at yourself ‘down below’ in a mirror before you have that appointment. I certainly wasn’t really au fait with my own anatomy before I started poking a straw up my urethra (so to speak!). Even having a look at an illustration of the anatomy helps.

When they offer you a choice between catheters, as none will be familiar to you it’s tempting to just point and say ‘that one’! I think to begin with you’re better off starting with a catheter that’s reasonably rigid. Some of the catheters are just so floppy, they remind me of cooked spaghetti; just imagine trying to make that go into a small tube!! Also, think about the type of handle that will suit you best, ie long or short.

Personally I use Speedicath Compact Plus. They have the benefit of a long handle, which is quite helpful for me, they are hydrophilic (which means they are made of a type of material that becomes lubricated when introduced to water) and the saline water is easily released by twisting. They are also discreet for carrying about with you. But I’ve also used Lofric which are also hydrophilic, what goes against them is they’re not as discreet, coming in larger packaging, the water bubble is harder to burst, and they are slightly more bendy. I started off with Actreen Lite Mini. They come in a small plastic sachet which has lubricant in it, they are very easy to use as they are the most rigid of any I’ve tried but ultimately I swapped to a type that is more gentle. I’ve also tried a number of others, most of which I found impossibly bendy.

But you will be shown a variety, see what the nurse advises. Just remember, that whatever type you opt for isn’t something you have to stick with, if you decide you want to try something different, either contact companies direct (do a search for ISC and you’ll find plenty), they will all send you free samples. Or ask the company that your bowel and bladder nurse sets you up with for delivery of catheters to send you samples.

The thing to aim for ultimately is to be able to ISC straight into the loo, but you may have to start with a mirror and a collection bag. This is what I did to begin with, laying on the bed with a strategically placed mirror. But once I was familiar with what it feels like, and my own anatomy, I tried doing it over the loo and immediately it worked. This is the reason for being comfortable with your anatomy first, you may find that you can do it into the loo straightaway if you know exactly what you’re aiming at.

And if you need any more advice, help, or just a friendly bit of shared experience, then ask on here. There as many people with loads of experience with ISC.


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Just self catheterized for the first time. Wasn’t too bad but later hurt a lot when trying to pee on my own. Is this normal?? Felt like peeing glass, which of course makes me not able to pee

a little blood when inserting catheter as well.


Not sure that’s supposed to happen.

Did you do it for the first time on your own, or did you have a nurse guiding you through the process?

What make of catheter did you use?

Was it easy to insert the catheter?

Did it hurt as you inserted it?

Sorry for all the questions but it’s not usual to either pee blood or have a feeling like you’re peeing glass. I’m wondering if you’ve managed to do a little damage to the urethra.


I wasn’t peeing blood, the catheter had some blood on it, just a little. This was on my own using a medline 10 French . My urethra has been sore since my cystoscopy 2 months ago so was hoping there was just some scarring/irritation from that haha. I’m happy to hear the pain is not normal was wondering how a person can continue this if that happens… Not seeing bladder nurse for a week so hopefully it gets better since it’s the weekend. Might hold off attempting again till then


Sending you a PM