If you’re experiencing urinary incontinence, urinary retention, or some type of injury or condition that makes it difficult for you to completely empty your bladder on your own, catheters can dramatically improve the quality of your day to day by helping you drain urine more easily. However, with several types of catheters on the market, it can be hard to decide which is the best option for you. Below, we explain the options available and discuss how certain choices may be more or less applicable to your situation.
What type of catheter do I need?
- Intermittent Catheters: single-use catheters that are meant to be used each time you urinate throughout the day.
- External Catheters: rubber sheaths that can be placed over the penis to drain urine. They are also known as “condom caths.” Many people who are using a catheter for the first time will opt for an External Catheter.
- Indwelling Catheters: often called “foley” catheters, these remain in the body for extended periods of time. Once the catheter is inserted and reaches your bladder, a balloon near the tip inflates, anchoring the catheter inside. Many people will opt to use an indwelling catheter at night.
What else should I know?
- Coated vs. uncoated: Hydrophilic catheters have a hydrophilic coating over the catheter material that helps the catheter not to stick to the lining of the urethra, making them more comfortable to insert and pull out.
- Lubrication: Some catheters will come with a lubricant that has been pre-applied that allows the catheter to be inserted more easily and comfortably. If a catheter is not coated or pre-lubricated, you will need to apply lubrication prior to inserting it.
- Material: The stiffer the catheter material is, the easier it is to push in. While more stiffness makes a catheter easier to insert, it can also rougher on the lining of the urethra. Latex and Rubber are very flexible, latex coated in silicone is a bit stiffer, and silicone is the stiffest.
- Size: Catheters come in various sizes, usually referred to as “French sizes.” Your doctor will help you find the correct size for your needs. If your catheter is too big, it will feel uncomfortable; if it is too small, you will experience leakage.
- Coudé vs. Straight Tip: Most catheters have straight tips, but coudé catheters have an angled or curved tip that helps with insertion for people who have an enlarged prostate or scar tissue.
- Closed System: Closed system catheters are made for increased sterility. They contain a pre-lubricated straight catheter attached to a urine collection bag, and the catheter comes in a sheath that allows the user to empty the bladder into a collection bag without directly touching the catheter, helping to reduce infection. This catheter is ideal for those with limited mobility or with problems with dexterity. Some people use this type of catheter when they are traveling or do not have direct access to a toilet.
Depending on your lifestyle and needs, you may also want to consider getting some of the following accessories.
- Drainage bags: smaller "leg" bags or larger "night" bags that collect urine. These are often used with indwelling or foley catheters.
- Extension tubing: extends the length of tubing between the catheter and the bag, allowing for more freedom of movement without uncomfortable pulling.
- Leg bag straps: help to keep leg bags in place if you have a more active lifestyle.
Catheters We Offer
External vs. Indwelling
External Catheters - This is a good product for first-time users because no insertion is needed since there is a rubber sheath that can be placed over the penis to drain urine.
Indwelling Catheters - Indwelling catheters are also good products because they can remain in the body for an extended period of time so you don’t have to constantly insert a new catheter every time you urinate.
Straight vs. Coudé
Straight - Straight tip catheters are your basic catheters which are good products because it’s a more inexpensive option.
Coudé - Coudé tip catheters are good products that have a curved tip that helps with the insertion for people with enlarged prostate or scarred tissue.
Coated vs. Uncoated
Coated - Pre-coated catheters are great products because they come already coated in a lubricating material to ease the insertion and removal processes.
Uncoated - Uncoated catheters are also good products but do not come pre-lubricated. You will have to apply lubricant if desired.