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3 Types of Female Catheters

3 Types of Female Catheters

types of female catheters

Wondering where to buy female catheters? Or maybe you’re curious where to start with figuring out what type of female catheter is right for you?

Whether you’re using female length catheters as part of your treatment plan for urinary retention, urinary incontinence, or another medical condition such as Multiple Sclerosis, you have plenty of options for self-cathing comfortably and efficiently. Plus, there are so many discreet female catheter options now!

Start here with our helpful guide about the three main types of intermittent urinary catheters for women.

What are Female Intermittent Catheters?

First, let’s go over what intermittent catheters are. Intermittent catheters are small sterile tubes that you inserted through either your urethra or a stoma to drain urine from the bladder. They’re available in sizes and lengths for all genders and ages, including pediatric length catheters for children and adolescents.

Catheters have come a long way since they were first invented. Luckily, we don’t have to self-cath with metal tubes or reeds anymore. Today’s intermittent catheters are typically made of comfortable, flexible materials such as vinyl (PVC), silicone, POBE, or red rubber latex.

Also, new technological innovations are happening all the time in the urological medical device world. More advanced female catheters may offer a more smooth and comfortable catheterization. Plus, many new catheter products on the market are more discreet and pocket-size than ever before while also being easier to use.

Request Free Female Catheter Samples

Female Catheter Lengths

Because the female urethra is typically only a few inches in length compared to a male anatomy’s urethra, female length catheters are typically around 6 inches long on average. However, shorter pocket catheters for women exist, such as the pre-lubricated SpeediCath Compact for Women, which is a discreet 2.75 inches long!

speedicath compact female catheters

If you need or prefer a long catheter, you may prefer unisex catheters (male length catheters). These can range up to 16 inches long. Some need or prefer this additional length for easier handling.

Female Catheter French Sizes

Another way to determine what catheter to use is by getting the correct French size. French sizes are the official measurement for catheter tube diameters. Most catheters today also use a universal color-coding system to help you more easily identify the French size of your catheter.

catheter funnel color french sizes

So how do you know what French size you should use? Your doctor or another qualified healthcare professional will be the right source for determining the right French size for your anatomy. Having the correct French size will help with overall comfort as well as drainage efficiency during female catheterization.

For example, if you use a smaller female catheter French size than what fits your body best, you may notice urine seeping around the sides of the catheter. This can literally leave a mess on your hands. On the other hand, if you use a larger catheter French size than necessary, catheter insertion may feel difficult. You might even feel some catheter pain or discomfort.

That’s why making sure to get the right size is a big part of finding the right female catheter for you. After you and your doctor have discussed catheter size options, you’ll want to start thinking about which intermittent catheter types for women may work best for your needs and preferences.

what female catheter is right for me


Types of Catheters for Women

The three main types of intermittent catheters for women and girls are:

Straight Female Length Catheters

Considered the original technology, female length straight intermittent catheters are uncoated and must be manually lubricated before insertion. Most people prefer using easy-open individual packets of sterile lubricating jelly, but we also offer tubes of catheter lubricant. At 180 Medical, we take into account what may be the best product option for you, including factors like limited hand dexterity or particular brand preferences.

Straight female catheters are easy to conceal in your pocket, makeup bag, backpack, or purse. This catheter type is lighter than catheters with insertion supplies, so these are easy to carry.
female straight uncoated catheters

Hydrophilic Female Length Catheters

Hydrophilic catheters are similar to straight catheters in many ways, but one key feature makes hydrophilic catheters very different.

Female hydrophilic catheters have a special coating that, when activated by water, acts like a catheter lubricant. However, the coating is directly bonded to the catheter tube, so once it’s activated, it stays slippery and smooth from insertion to withdrawal. No need to carry additional lubricating jelly.

Depending on the brand, some hydrophilic catheters come with their own sterile water packet. Just burst the packet and let the catheter soak inside the package according to directions, then it’s ready to use.

Some brands, such as the Cure Ultra, are already lubricated or activated and ready to use as soon as you open the discreet catheter package. Then you can dispose of it easily once you’ve drained your bladder.

Most hydrophilic catheter manufacturers feature a handy guiding sleeve to allow you to insert the catheter without touching the tube itself. These are fantastic for minimizing the risk of contamination from your hands.
female hydrophilic catheters

Closed System Catheters for Women

Female closed system catheters are convenient since they are all-in-one packages. The pre-lubricated or hydrophilic sterile catheter connects to a self-contained collection bag, eliminating the need to carry additional lubricant.

Many brands also include insertion supplies, such as gloves and antiseptic wipes, in their closed system catheter kits. Most closed systems include a handy feature called a pre-lubricated introducer tip. These tips bypass the highest concentrations of bacteria in the first few millimeters of your urethra, which helps minimize the risk of urinary tract infections.

Some people in wheelchairs also prefer closed system catheters because they can self-catheterize right from their chairs. Thanks to the attached collection bag, you can catheterize anywhere you have privacy.


female closed system catheters


180 Medical is Here for You

Since we specialize in catheters, we carry all the major catheter brands and types. You have the option to sample different types of female catheters, based on what your insurance covers. When you choose 180 Medical, you also get total freedom of choice when it comes to your brand preference.

Plus, 180 Medical offers free female catheter samples, so you can try out some options before committing to a full order.

Request Free Catheter Samples

When you’re ready to order, 180 Medical is here for you! We’ll be glad to help you find the female catheter that’s easiest and most comfortable for you to use.

Our highly trained catheter specialists have helped thousands of women, men, and children learn self-catheterization and find the right catheter supplies. Our goal is to help turn your life around with high-quality products that can restore your confidence and independence.

We also offer educational materials like full-color brochures and DVDs offering step-by-step instructions on how to perform self-catheterization.

Contact us or give us a call at 1-877-688-2729. We’d love the opportunity to discuss your female catheter options with you!

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About the Author
Jessica is the Sr. Marketing Specialist at 180 Medical, where she's worked for 13 years. Her favorite part of her job is getting to be creative and seeing the positive impact we can make on our customers' lives.

Outside of work, you can find her hanging out at home with her husband and their dogs or browsing garden centers where she will almost certainly buy another houseplant she doesn't really need.