3 Types of Female Catheters

3 female catheter types


If your doctor has recommended intermittent catheterization as part of your treatment plan (whether due to bladder retention, urinary incontinence, multiple sclerosis, a spinal cord injury, or another medical condition that affects the way your bladder works), you may be feeling overwhelmed by the news and wondering where to start.

Those feelings are perfectly normal. However, once armed with the right information and the right supplies for you, using female catheters can become second nature to you.

First, learn more about the three main types of female intermittent catheters!

A Little Bit About Female Intermittent Catheters

Intermittent catheters are small tubes inserted through a urethra or a stoma to drain urine from the bladder. These are usually made of vinyl or PVC, silicone, or red rubber latex, and they are considered single-use only devices.

Catheters have come a long way since they were first invented, and innovations in technology continue to roll out with new products that may offer a smoother catheterization experience as well as better discretion and ease of use.
woman with backpack

Female Catheter Lengths

Because the female urethra is only a few inches in length compared to the male urethra, female catheters are typically around 6 inches long, although there are smaller pocket catheter options.

Some women prefer to use male length catheters, which are around 16 inches long.

Female Catheter French Sizes

Concerned about the catheter’s diameter? No need to worry. Your doctor will be able to test French sizes with you and determine what will work and feel best for you.

The right French size will help with overall comfort as well as efficiency in drainage.

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.

If you use a larger catheter French size than necessary, insertion may feel difficult. You might even feel some pain or discomfort.

That’s why making sure to get the right size prescribed before ordering will be a big component in finding the right female catheter for you.

After you and your doctor have discussed size options, you’ll want to start thinking about the three main intermittent catheter types available for women.

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 prior to insertion. Usually, this is done with individual packets of sterile lubricant, although some women prefer using tubes of lubricant. These can easily be included with your catheter order, and we can take into account what may be easiest for you to use, including factors like limited hand dexterity.
Straight female catheters are fairly easy to conceal in your pocket, makeup bag, or purse. Another benefit is that straight female intermittent catheters may feel a little lighter than catheters that include additional insertion supplies or water packets, and these can make it easier to pack or carry for some people.
female straight uncoated catheters

Hydrophilic Female Length Catheters

Hydrophilic catheters are similar to straight catheters in many ways, but there’s one key feature that makes hydrophilic catheters stand apart from other types. Female hydrophilic catheters have a coating that is activated by water to become slippery, smooth, and ready to use. This coating acts in place of lubricant, so you don’t have to worry about carrying along additional lubricating jelly with you.

Depending on the brand, some hydrophilic catheters come with their own sterile water packet to burst inside the packaging and let the catheter soak anywhere from a few seconds to half a minute, and then it’s ready to use. Others, like the popular SpeediCath Compact, are pre-packaged in their own sterile saline solution, so as soon as you open up this discreet package (designed to look similar to a makeup item like a tube of mascara or lipstick), your catheter is ready to use. 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 and risking potential 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 catheter itself is pre-lubricated and sterile inside its self-contained collection bag, which eliminates the need to carry additional lubricant. Many brands also include insertion supplies, such as gloves and antiseptic wipes. Most closed systems also have a pre-lubricated introducer tip that helps to bypass the majority of bacteria in the first few millimeters of the urethra, which minimizes the risk of infection.

Some people in wheelchairs prefer closed system catheters since they can sometimes eliminate the need to transfer from your chair to a toilet. Thanks to the attached collection bag, you can self-cath anywhere you have privacy.

There are options such as gripping aids for those with limited hand dexterity, as well as different materials of catheters, different collection bag sizes, and more. Our Catheter Product Specialists can discuss the different features that may appeal to you or work best for your needs.
female closed system catheters

180 Medical is Here for You

contact 180 medical today

Since we specialize in catheters, we carry all the major catheter brands and types. You have the option to sample different types of catheters, and you have the freedom of choice to pick a brand you prefer.

When you’re ready to order, 180 Medical is here to serve you and your doctor in helping to select an intermittent catheter that will be easy for you to use while giving you a hygienic, comfortable, and convenient catheterization.

We are catheter specialists that have been in the business for over fifteen years, and we’ve helped thousands of women, men, and children find the right catheter supplies. Our goal is to help turn your quality of life around with high-quality female catheter products that can restore your confidence and sense of independence.

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

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

Call Toll-Free (877) 688-2729

Join the 180 Community

Subscribe to receive our monthly newsletter with product news, tips, events, and more!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

About the Author
Jessica is the Marketing Specialist at 180 Medical and has been a part of the 180 family for over 9 years. In her downtime, she enjoys creative writing, making art, seeing new places, and spending time with her loved ones.