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3 Types of Male Catheters and Their Uses

3 Types of Male Catheters and Their Uses

types of male catheters

Are you searching where to buy male catheters? If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at our handy guide to go over the 3 main types of male catheters.

Whether you’re using catheters for urinary retention, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), after prostate cancer treatment, or another medical condition, you have a world of catheter options available to you at 180 Medical. Plus, many insurance companies today will cover the use of sterile intermittent catheters.

Take a look at our helpful guide to learn more about the three main types of intermittent catheters for men here!

What are Male Intermittent Catheters?

First, let’s go over the basics. After all, what exactly are intermittent catheters?

A catheter is a thin flexible tube that you insert into the urethra or through a stoma to drain urine from the bladder. The term intermittent means that the catheter doesn’t stay in the bladder, like an indwelling (Foley) catheter does. Intermittent catheters drain urine, then you withdraw them and throw them away after each use.

While in the early days of the first catheter invention, people may have used metal or glass tubes to self-cath, current catheters are very different and way more comfortable. Most catheters come in sterilized, body-safe materials such as vinyl (PVC), silicone, POBE, or red rubber latex. Additionally, as technology continues to advance, catheters continue to become more comfortable and discreet.

Male Catheter Lengths

The male anatomy typically has a longer urethra than the female anatomy. That’s why male catheters (sometimes known as unisex catheters) are usually around 16 inches long on average.

However, many options today, including pocket catheters for men, come in shorter lengths. For example, the Coloplast SpeediCath Flex Coudé Pro Pocket Catheter clocks in at around 13 inches long. Its actual package size is compact and pocket-size in a dimension of 3″ by 7 1/4″, so it’s perfect for discreet carrying in public. Plus, it offers helpful and hygienic features such as a flexible insertion tip and a unique protective dry-sleeve, so you never directly touch the catheter tube.

speedicath flex coude pro male catheters at 180 medical

Male Catheter French Sizes

Male length catheters come in many different French sizes to suit a wide variety of anatomies. What are French sizes? French size measurement is the way catheter tube diameters are sized.

Most male catheters, with the exception of certain red rubber catheters, follow the universal color-coding system, which helps you easily identify the French size of your intermittent catheter.

catheter funnel color french sizes

How do you know which French size will work best for you? Your urologist or another prescribing medical professional will be the one to help you determine the right French size to fit your unique anatomy.

For instance, if you use a smaller French size than needed, you may end up with a mess on your hands as urine seeps around the sides of the tube. Also, it will drain much more slowly.

On the other hand, a larger French size than necessary may make catheterization feel uncomfortable or even painful.

The right French size for your anatomy will drain efficiently while keeping catheterization comfortable. So be sure to discuss your catheter size options with your healthcare professional.

Male Catheter Insertion Tips: Straight and Coudé Tips

Next, you should know a little bit about the different types of catheter insertion tips available on all types of male catheters.

On average, most people tend to use the standard straight catheter tip. This is usually slightly tapered to aid in a more comfortable insertion, but straight catheters have no curve or bend in the tip.

Coudé tip catheters, however, feature a curve in the tip. In fact, coudé is a French word for “elbow” or “bend.” Some people may refer to coudé tip catheters as bent tip catheters or curved tip catheters.

catheter insertion tips straight catheters coude catheters

Because some men have difficulty passing straight catheters, doctors may sometimes prescribe coudé catheters. The unique curve near the insertion tip of male coudé catheters helps aid catheter-users to bypass tight places like urethral strictures, enlarged prostates, or blockages in the urethral passage.

Learn more about the basics of coudé catheters here, including the different types of coudé catheter tips.

The Three Main Types of Male Catheters

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. Others prefer larger tubes of catheter lubricant, which we also provide at 180 Medical.

Straight catheters, like all types of male catheters, may also be available to you as pocket catheters. Straight pocket catheters typically come in a curved or U-shaped package, which you can discreetly tuck into your pocket, bag, or briefcase for easy carrying.

male straight catheters

Pre-lubricated and Hydrophilic Male Catheters

Hydrophilic male catheters are similar to straight catheters, except for one unique feature: their hydrophilic coating. This coating, when activated by water, becomes a sort of high-tech lubrication. In other words, it gets super slippery for a more comfortable and smoother catheterization from beginning to end.

Some types of male hydrophilic catheters require manual activation of the hydrophilic coating by an included water packet, such as the popular GentleCath Glide Male Catheter. The GentleCath Glide is also available in both straight and coudé tip.

gentlecath glide
The GentleCath Glide is available in straight tip and coudé tip.

Some hydrophilic catheters are pre-hydrated and ready to use as soon as you open the package, such as the Bard Magic3 GO Male Catheter. Just take it out of its packaging, and it’s ready to go when you are.

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.

Wondering if you’re using the right catheter? Let us help. Click here to get your question answered by one of our catheter specialists.


Benefits of Hydrophilic Catheters

  • Less mess
  • Easy to use
  • Touchless catheterization for reduced risk of infection
  • Easy carrying and traveling

Male Closed System Catheters

A closed system catheter, which is also known as a touchless or no-touch catheter, features a pre-lubricated or hydrophilic male length catheter housed in its own self-contained sterile collection bag. This makes it great for traveling. Also, people in wheelchairs often prefer closed system catheter kits because they don’t have to transfer to a toilet or find a receptacle to drain into. With a closed system catheter, you can self-catheterize anywhere you have privacy.

One new and popular option is the Hollister VaPro Plus Touch-Free Male Catheter, which has its own integrated collection bag and a protective touch-free sleeve.

Sometimes closed system catheter kits have catheter insertion supplies such as gloves, an underpad, and an antiseptic wipe. 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 pocket catheters for men (available in straight, coudé, hydrophilic, and closed system catheter options).

When you choose 180 Medical, you have the option to try free male catheter samples that might work best for you from a wide variety of brands.

Request Free Samples

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 or nurse will handle inserting the catheter for you. To keep it from slipping out, they inflate a small balloon near the insertion tip to hold it in place in the bladder. Next, the Foley catheter allows 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, the risk of urinary tract infections may increase. However, indwelling catheters may be the right choice for people who are unable to self-cath.

male foley catheters

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 leg bags easily connect to collect urine throughout the day.

Men who use condom catheters usually 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 Catheterize Using a Male Catheter

We want you to feel confident and comfortable as you learn to self-cath. That’s why we provide easy online instructions for how to catheterize at

Our helpful self-catheterization instructions include options for all of the above types of catheters, including straight intermittent male length catheters, coudé catheters, closed system catheters, and hydrophilic catheters.

In addition, we can provide step-by-step catheterization instructions like full-color brochures and DVDs in your order.

180 Medical catheter experts

What Type of Catheter for Men is Best?

When it comes to catheters, no single type or size works for everyone. That’s why we suggest talking to your doctor about your needs. They can assess your condition and recommend what may work best for you.

Our Product Specialists are also more than happy to help you find the right intermittent catheter for you! As true experts in the catheter industry, we’re glad to be a trusted resource and support system as you determine what kind of male catheter product works best for your individual needs.

Contact us today or give us a call at 1-877-688-2729. We’d love the opportunity to discuss male catheters with you!

Call Toll-Free (877) 688-2729

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About the Author
Jessica is the Sr. Marketing Specialist at 180 Medical, where she's worked for 12 years. She loves seeing the positive impact we make on our customers' lives through our values of compassion and education.

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