Which Catheter Is Best for You?
Anyone who self-caths knows that it can often be a hassle to figure everything out–
keeping track of how many catheters you have on hand, how often to use them, and
where you can cath safely when you’re out and about.
But, one of the biggest challenges for many people living with urinary incontinence is
which type of catheter is best for them. Since the process of shopping for the ideal
catheter for you can be daunting at times, we’re going to break it down for you. Here’s
all that you need to know about that ever-important plastic tube:
Main types of catheters
There are two main kinds of catheters to choose from: intermittent catheters, which we
sell in our stores and online, and indwelling foley catheters. We will explain how each
type works and what some of the benefits are for each.
Intermittent, or single-use catheters, are meant to be used once and thrown away,
which helps keep your cathing hygienic and can prevent urinary tract infections.
The intermittent catheter goes into your urethra and drains the urine in your bladder.
Then, it is removed and thrown away.
A straight catheter is the same as an intermittent catheter that is removed immediately
after one-time use. Using disposable straight catheters can reduce the risk of getting a
urinary tract infection when doing intermittent catheterization. The straight catheter is
often used with a lubricant to minimize discomfort. These are relatively easy to store in
a purse or backpack.
A hydrophilic catheter has a polymer coating that binds to the surface of the catheter.
When wet, the catheter coating becomes smooth and slippery, acting as a lubricant for
optimal comfort while cathing.
Closed System Catheters
A closed system catheter is an all-in-one kit that includes a urinary catheter attached to
a urine collection bag. This can be used for measuring urine output. It can also be very
handy for traveling or when there is no toilet nearby. The catheter comes pre-lubricated
under a cap.
Coudé Catheters are a specialty type of intermittent catheter that has a curved tip known as
“Coudé”. A Coudé catheter is prescribed when a traditional straight-tip catheter will not function
Commonly used when there is a urethral obstruction, strictures, or for men with an enlarged
prostate, the curved-tip design will make it easier for the catheter to maneuver around these
restrictions, allowing the catheter to reach the bladder to empty it properly with minimal
discomfort. Coudé catheters are available with a guide strip along the top of the catheter to help the
person insert it correctly. The Coudé catheter is available in a variety of options, including Olive-curved tip or Tiemann-curved tip.
Indwelling Foley Catheters
An indwelling catheter (called a Foley catheter), is inserted and left in the bladder for a
short period of time or on a long-term basis. The catheter is attached to a drainage bag. The healthcare professional inserts the catheter using a small balloon that is inflated at the end to prevent the catheter from sliding out of the body.
Often, Foley catheters are placed in a person before or after surgery or while recovering
in the hospital. This catheter will normally be placed by a nurse or another healthcare professional.
While each type of catheter comes with varying risks of infection, long-term foley users
can be at greater risk of a UTI. This is why the insertion of an indwelling catheter should
be done only with a doctor’s approval, and the prescribing doctor should follow up with
the patient to ensure precautions are being taken to prevent an infection.
When “shopping” for the ideal catheter, there is no one-size-fits-all option. Each
person’s individual needs are different. But, your choice should help you enjoy the best
quality of life possible, whether you are recovering from surgery, or engaging in your
favorite everyday activities.
A catheter doesn’t have to limit your life but can free you to what you love to do best.