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Types of Catheters

Urological difficulties such as incontinence can be not only embarrassing, but very inconvenient as well. To help combat the problem, many kinds of catheters have been developed to help both men and women cope with the problem. Some are made exclusively for men, while others are used by both genders. Because the urological systems of men and women have differences, some catheters that are used for both men and women do require some adjusting to let them work properly.

Intermittent Catheter

The most common type of catheter is known as the intermittent catheter. This straight-tube catheter is placed inside the urethral passage and into the bladder, letting it drain the bladder internally. Also called a Robinson catheter, it's made of silicone or latex and is designed for short-term drainage. Used for men and women, the major difference is the length of catheter that's used. Men's are usually 16 inches long, while women's vary from 6-8 inches in length. The reason for the difference in length is the path from the urethra to the bladder is much shorter for women than men, so a smaller catheter is needed.

Foley Catheter

Foley catheters are designed for long-term use and are indwelling catheters made to stay in place however long a patient may need them. Used in men and women, they have a balloon tip on the internal end that goes inside the bladder and inflates with sterile water to keep the catheter in place. The outside tip usually has two or more ports, of which one is used for drainage and the other for inflating the balloon.

Coude Tip Catheter

Coude tip catheters are used by males only, and are made in similar fashion to intermittent catheters. The major difference is Coude tip catheters are slightly curved at the internal tip to allow them to navigate past the prostate or any obstructions leading to the bladder. Sometimes, these catheters may come with a Foley balloon, if they are expected to be used for a long-term patient.

External Catheters

External catheters are known as "condom catheters" due to their resemblance to condoms, and they are designed to allow men to relieve themselves discreetly into a bag strapped to their leg. Made for men experiencing incontinence, they greatly decrease the chances of getting a urinary tract infection since all parts of the catheter are outside the body.

Travel Catheter

Travel catheter are convenient for both men and women and are very good for people on the go in both their personal and professional lives. Single-use catheters that come in individual packages, they allow people to maintain active lives while managing their physical issues. Made to be very discreet, these catheters are designed to be small in size and shape.

The most popular style for women is one that's pre-lubed and shaped like a lipstick container, while men have one that attaches to their leg for easy and discreet drainage. While urological issues can be embarrassing and difficult to live with, these catheters make the situation much easier to deal with on a daily basis.

Last Updated: July 25, 2017