Types of Male Catheters
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When it comes to male catheters, just like anything else in the medical field, every user will have specific needs and preferences. With a plethora of varying sizes and types, we understand that you are bound to have questions about what style of urinary catheter is right for you. Here you’ll find a comprehensive breakdown of all the different types and their specific functions. It’s important to reach out to your healthcare provider to determine what will work best for your specific needs.
Intermittent Catheters – Intermittent catheters are single-use catheters that require lubrication before use. Because they are single use, it eliminates the need to wear a continuously draining catheter. Intermittent catheterization can aid in eliminating the risk of UTIs and can improve urinary incontinence in some patients.
Pre-Lubricated Catheters – These catheters come with a gel lubricant already applied and ready to use for more convenience and ease during application. Men who have a history of UTIs or urethral trauma caused by intermittent catheterization may greatly benefit from pre-lubricated male catheters as they will not have to touch the catheter to apply lubricant before use.
Hydrophilic Catheters – Hydrophilic catheters come pre-lubricated in a package of sterile water. The lubricant for a hydrophilic binds to the surface of the catheter, and when the catheter is submerged in water the lubricant coating binds to the catheter. This causes the catheter to remain smooth during the entire process of insertion. The hydrophilic coating helps reduce the risk of inflammation and friction, and thereby reducing the chance of urethral damage.
Coudé Tip Catheters – Coudé, French for “elbow”, perfectly describes the purpose of this catheter. Designed with a slightly curved tip for easy insertion, this catheter is ideal for men having difficulty navigating a straight-tip catheter around obstructions like an enlarged prostate. Typically, coudé catheters have a colored stripe or raised surface to indicate the correct positioning of the curved tip.
Closed System Catheters – Closed System catheters are made with an attached collection bag, and the catheter itself is pre-lubricated for immediate use. These systems are single-use only, and most have an introducer tip that passes through a pre-lubricated sleeve which keeps it straight and lubricated as it is inserted. When the plastic sleeve is squeezed, it prevents the catheter from slipping for easy use.
External Catheter – Similar to a condom, External catheters are sheaths that are applied over the penis and connected to a drainage bag. Used for urine collection, these catheters are ideal for men who experience incontinence, but cannot be used by men who cannot empty their bladder independently. External male catheters are disposable and should be changed every 24-48 hours.
Indwelling/Foley Catheters – Also commonly known as urethral or suprapubic catheters, these closed-system catheters are inserted during a surgical procedure where an small incision is made below the navel and above the pubic bone, where they then reside in the bladder for a period of time. Unlike other catheters, indwelling catheters are not disposable and are not self-inserted. Indwelling catheters are recommended for individuals with urinary incontinence, inability to empty the bladder or those who have undergone surgery on the prostate or genitals.
How To Use Male Catheters
For a first time catheter user, self-catheterization can seem incredibly daunting – and that is why we are here to help! Here are a few simple steps to get you started:
Gather everything you will need. Depending on what style of catheter you use, your supplies could include a water-soluble lubricant, sanitary towelettes, drainage bag, etc.
Sanitize! This is an incredibly important step to reduce the risk of infection. Make sure to wash your hands with soap and sterile water. No sink nearby? No problem! A sanitary wipe or towelette can also do the trick.
Check your catheter. Get into the habit of looking at your catheters before insertion, to make sure the product is still securely in the packaging and not damaged or the incorrect type.
To prepare for self-cathing, either sit in a chair in front of a toilet or stand over the toilet. While holding the penis in one hand, carefully push back the foreskin and gently sanitize the area with a moist towelette to remove any bacteria that could be present. If your catheter isn’t pre-lubricated, this is the time to apply it – roughly six inches down the catheter tube. While lubricating your catheter, or while holding your pre-lubricated catheter before insertion, make sure your catheter does not touch anything. Not even your fingers, clothes, or any surface of the bathroom. This could cause potential infections. Should your catheter touch something, discard it and get a new one. To then insert, hold the penis up towards your stomach at a 60 to 70 degree angle, slowly inserting the catheter into the urethral opening until urine begins to freely flow. It’s completely normal for insertion to be uncomfortable, however should you experience pain of any kind, consult your healthcare professional immediately.
Once you’ve finished insertion, allow your bladder to empty completely. Once the urine stops flowing, slowly and gently pull the catheter out of the urethra. To finish, discard your used catheter and supplies in the trash bin and clean up by washing your hands or using a sanitary hand towelette.
Male Catheter Sizing
Catheters come in various sizes. Commonly referred to as “French Size”, this references the external diameter of the catheter tube; the higher the number, the greater the diameter. Your healthcare professional will guide you through the process of discovering the best catheter for your specific needs and other determining medical conditions. Overall, catheters that are too large for the user will cause inflammation or friction when inserted, while catheters that are too small cause drainage to be slower than usual.