3 Types of Male Catheters and Their Uses

types of catheters for men

Have you recently been told by your doctor that you need to start using a male urinary catheter?

While your urologist will likely recommend what type of male catheter to use, based on your individual anatomy and medical condition. For example, if you’re in a wheelchair, they might suggest a closed system catheter to make it easier to self-cath from your wheelchair without transferring to a toilet.

You’re free to let them know if you have any preferences too. So get to know more about the three main types of catheters for men with our handy guide!

Main Types of Male Intermittent Catheters

What are male catheters used for? An intermittent catheter is a thin tube composed of vinyl, rubber, or silicone, that is inserted through the urethra or a stoma to drain the bladder of urine. To keep your urinary system functioning as it should, doctors usually prescribe a certain number of times per day to self-cath.

While it may sound intimidating at first, intermittent cathing is an easy process that people of all ages can do on their own every day.

Intermittent catheters are single-use devices. Washing and reusing a disposable catheter may increase your risk of infection, so you should use each catheter only once and then dispose of it.

Male length catheters are typically 16 inches long. They come in a variety of French sizes and catheter types as well.

For those who have difficulty passing a straight tip catheter, whether due to a blockage, enlarged prostate, urethral stricture, or other issues, a male length coudé (or curved) tip catheter may be the right fit. Coudé catheters are available from most of the major brands in uncoated straight, hydrophilic, and closed system options.

Straight Male Catheters

Straight intermittent catheters are sometimes called uncoated catheters because they need manual lubrication before insertion. Most people use single-use packets of sterile lubricating jelly, which can be included in orders easily. Others prefer separate larger tubes of lubricating jelly, which we also provide.

These are also available as pocket catheters, which come in a curved or U-shaped package and can be discreetly tucked into your pocket for easy carrying.

male straight catheters

Pre-lubricated and Hydrophilic Male Catheters

male travel catheters like speedicath
Hydrophilic catheters like the Speedicath Compact for Men are great for travel.

Hydrophilic catheters are quite similar to straight catheters, except for one extraordinary feature: their hydrophilic lubrication coating. This coating, when activated by water, gets super slippery and perfect for a more comfortable and smoother catheterization from beginning to end.

Many brands of hydrophilic intermittent catheters offer a no-touch handling sleeve in their packaging to more easily handle the catheter without touching the tube itself. This reduces the risk of contamination from your hands.

Some types of hydrophilic catheters require manual activation of the hydrophilic coating by a provided water packet. Other hydrophilic catheters come ready to use in their own sterile water solution.

Just like hydrophilic catheters, pre-lubricated male catheters don’t require additional lubricating jelly. Pre-lubricated catheters come ready to use as soon as you open the packaging.

Most pre-lubricated and hydrophilic intermittent catheters offer a no-touch handling sleeve in their packaging to allow the user to more easily handle the catheter without touching the tube itself. This reduces the risk of bacterial contamination from your hands.

These catheters have great benefits like:

  • less mess
  • less waste
  • easy to use
  • touchless catheterization for reduced risk of infection
  • easy carrying and traveling

One of the many types of hydrophilic catheters we carry is the GentleCath™ Glide, a hydrophilic catheter designed with FeelClean™ technology. Learn more:

Closed System Catheters for Men

A closed system catheter, also known as a touchless or no-touch catheter, features a pre-lubricated male length catheter housed in its own self-contained sterile collection bag.

This male catheter type is great for travel or for people in wheelchairs because it eliminates the need to transfer to a toilet and no need to drain the urine into a receptacle. You can self-cath anywhere you have privacy, thanks to the self-contained collection bag.

Often, closed system catheters have catheter insertion supplies such as gloves, an underpad, and an antiseptic wipe to lessen reduce the risk of infection. Most closed systems also feature soft pre-lubricated introducer tips to further reduce the risk of bacterial contamination.

At 180 Medical, we specialize in intermittent catheters, and we carry all the major catheter brands and types, including male pocket catheters (available in straight, coudé, hydrophilic, and closed system catheter options).

When you choose 180 Medical, you have the option to sample catheters that might work best for you. You have complete freedom of choice to pick the brand you prefer, based on what is covered by your insurance.

male intermittent catheter brands

Alternative Types of Male Catheters

There are two other male catheter options, depending on your condition and needs. 180 Medical provides these catheter types when prescribed in addition to intermittent catheters.

Indwelling Foley Catheters

Indwelling Foley catheters are mainly for long-term use. A doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional usually inserts the catheter for the user. To keep the catheter from slipping out, they will inflate a small balloon near the insertion tip by sterile water. The Foley catheter stays in place to allow urine to drain throughout the day into an attached collection device like a urinal, leg bag, or drain bag.

Since Foley catheters remain inside the body for long periods of time, the risk of urinary tract infections may increase.

However, indwelling catheters may be the right choice for people who cannot intermittently self-catheterize.

Male External Catheters

External catheters, also called Texas catheters or condom catheters, fit over the penis like a condom. Skin-friendly adhesive or soft straps hold external catheters in place. Drain bags or legs bags easily connect to collect urine throughout the day.

Men who use condom catheters wear one for no longer than a day or two at a time.

Maintaining proper hygiene and changing your external catheters regularly will help minimize the possible risk of skin irritation or infections.

How to Use a Male Catheter

180 Medical gladly provides top-quality male catheter supplies of all kinds. We want you to feel confident and comfortable with using catheters. That’s why we also offer step-by-step catheterization instructions like full-color brochures and DVDs.

We also provide educational online resources where you can find step-by-step instructions to learn how to self-cath.

male catheter experts
Contact us to inquire about free male catheter samples to try what may work for you.

What Type of Catheter for Men is Best?

Your doctor can make an assessment of your condition and recommend what may be the right fit for you.

Our Product Specialists are also more than happy to help you find the right catheter for you! At 180 Medical, we take the time to listen to your concerns and answer any questions you have.

As experts in the catheter industry, we’re glad to be a trusted source of support as we help you determine what kind of male catheter product works best for your individual needs.

Give us a call at 1-877-688-2729. We’d love the opportunity to discuss your male 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 a Marketing Specialist at 180 Medical, and she's been a part of the 180 family for nearly 10 years. Her favorite part of working here is seeing the positive impact we make on others' lives and in our local community.

She loves writing, meditating, drinking tea, listening to podcasts & indie music, & taking walks & windows-down drives in the Oklahoma countryside with her awesome dogs.