Needles, anaesthetics, cannulas, catheters and urine retention.


The people that knock you out are masters of the dark arts. Plus, they’re a huge part of keeping you safe when you’re under the knife.  Always the most charming clinicians, quick with a joke to put you at ease. It always seems to me that anesthetists, more than anything else, just love giving people drugs.

One thing that might be important to consider is how anesthetics could play a part in making you retain urine. (and you potentially ending up with a catheter in for a while) I’ve learnt to always ask the question about the drugs they are giving you to knock you out. There may be other options that are less likely to give you any retention issues.  It doesn’t hurt to ask!

Urine retention

Urinary retention is a common side effect after anesthetics. If you can’t wee after surgery, chances are that they’ll give you a catheter. After penile surgery, that’s going to be quite uncomfortable! 

I had one in for two days and I had about 20 erections over that period.  The pain of having an erection with a catheter in is indescribable, so try and avoid that! 

Surgeons typically put a catheter in while you’re under and they’re working on you. Then, it’s taken it out when you move into recovery.  What I’ve found to really work for me, is to get up and active as soon as you can after surgery. It’s important to get everything bouncing around and opening up again.

As soon as the nurses let me, I get up and go for a few walks. Just up and down the ward, maybe an hour or so before I need to go to the toilet.  Don’t get stressed and worried about it, just try and walk around a bit and then when it’s time to go for the first wee, you’ve got a fighting chance!

The first one will sting a bit, like you’ve had a month in Kavos in 1996.


Catheters are my absolute worst nightmare. A nurse greases up the end of the pipe which seems to be about an inch thick. (it’s not really) Then pushes it down the hole in the end of your penis until it ends up in your bladder somewhere. Some kind of wizardry happens and all the wee ends up in a bag.  As previously mentioned somewhere else, don’t get an erection while you’ve got a catheter in or you’ll cry.

Although, if your wife/girlfriend etc likes to mention anything about how painful childbirth is… you can play your ace.  “10lb baby with a massive head? Suck it up sweetheart, you don’t know you’re born”.

Whilst the process of getting a catheter in is really quite uncomfortable… Taking one out is surprisingly nice.  Like when someone pulls a finger out of your bum.  Apparently.


Most nurses put so many cannulas in, that it’s easy for them. 9 times out of 10, you don’t feel a thing.  Every now and again though, the work experience kid is let loose on you and you end up like a pin cushion. 

I still have nerve damage in my right arm. (10 months on) A thick cannula went right through a nerve and I felt everything from my elbow to two fingertips.

The way that I make everything nice and easy, is to drink plenty of water before you see a needle. That usually helps to plump everything up nicely. 

Or you could use one of those nice electric blankets the chemo types have.