Toll-Free(877) 688-2729

3 Types of Male Catheters and Their Uses

by Jessica March 9 2015 09:37
three types of intermittent male catheters

Have you recently been told by your doctor that you need to start using a urinary catheter? You might feel a little overwhelmed at all of the choices out there, but we are here to help you navigate your options. While your prescribing healthcare professional can determine for sure which kind of catheter may best suit your needs, you can start here by discovering more about the three main types of intermittent catheters that are available for men.

Types of Male Intermittent Catheters

cure pocket catheter menAn intermittent catheter is a thin tube, typically composed of vinyl, rubber, or silicone, that is manually inserted into the bladder through the urethra to drain urine manually in an easy process that many can do all on their own.

Sometimes known as an "in and out" catheter, an intermittent catheter is considered a single-use device. Washing and reusing an intermittent catheter can increase your risk of infection, so instead, you will simply use it once to drain your bladder and then dispose of it.

Male catheters, which are typically 16 inches in length, come in a wide variety of French sizes and materials, so you can find the right one for your individual needs and preferences!

For those who may not be able to pass a straight tip catheter, whether due to a blockage, enlarged prostate, urethral stricture, or other issue, a 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.

The three main types of intermittent catheters are:

Straight Catheters
This type of intermittent catheter is the original technology formulated to be able to drain the bladder at regular intervals. Sometimes also known as "in and out" catheters, intermittent catheter tubes are uncoated, so they must be manually lubricated before insertion, typically by individual-use packets of sterile lubrication which can be included in your orders. These come in both straight and coudé tip, depending on the user's need. 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. 

straight male catheters

Hydrophilic Catheters
This type of male catheter is similar to straight catheters except for a hydrophilic coating which, when activated by water, becomes super slippery and ready to use. There is less mess and effort involved with this newer technology, as there is no need for additional lubrication, and it helps facilitate a smooth catheterization experience from start to finish. Many brands of hydrophilic intermittent catheters offer a handling sleeve in their packaging to be able to manipulate the catheter for insertion without actually touching the tube itself, which can also reduce the risk of infection from any possible bacterial contamination on your hands. 

Some brands require a manual activation of the hydrophilic coating by a provided water packet, and there are also options where the catheter is already packaged in its own sterile saline solution and is ready to use as soon as you open it.

hydrophilic male catheters

Closed System Catheters
A closed system catheter is a self-contained, sterile, pre-lubricated male length catheter and a collection bag, all in one ready-to-go package. It's great for travel or for people in wheelchairs, since 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 additional accessories such as gloves, an underpad, and an antiseptic wipe to further minimize the risk of infection. Most closed systems also feature introducer tips, which allows the catheter to bypass the highest concentrations of bacteria in the first few millimeters of the urethra upon insertion. 

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

male closed system catheters

At 180 Medical, we specialize in intermittent catheters, and we carry all the major catheter brands and types, so you have the option to sample what might work best for you and have the freedom of choice to pick the brand you prefer.

male intermittent catheter brands

Alternative Types of Male Catheters

There are two other types of male catheters that are sometimes prescribed by healthcare professionals, depending upon one's condition and personal needs. If these are prescribed for you in addition to intermittent catheters, 180 Medical can provide these catheter types for you as well.

Indwelling Catheter
Sometimes called a foley catheter, this type must be inserted by a doctor or nurse. It remains in the bladder to allow urine to drain throughout the day into an attached drainage bag. To keep it from slipping out, there is a small balloon near the insertion tip which is inflated by sterile water after it reaches the bladder. Indwelling catheters are mainly for long-term use and are ideal for those who may not be able to insert a catheter themselves or maintain a regimen of intermittent catheterization. 

One of the potential downsides of using an indwelling catheter is the risk of infection, since the catheter stays inside the body for long periods of time.

External Catheter
One option commonly used for incontinence issues are external catheters, which are also often called Texas catheters or condom catheters. Rather than inserting a tube into the urethra to drain the bladder, this type of male catheter fits over the penis, just like a condom, and is typically held in place by adhesive. These are also attached to a leg bag or drainage bag via a longer connecting tube from the catheter tip, and this will collect the urine that may dribble throughout the day. These are for short-term use. Typically, users of external catheters will want to wear it for no longer than a day or two at a time before it will need to be changed out. Maintaining proper hygiene and changing your external catheters regularly will help minimize the possible risk of skin irritation or infections.

180 medical customer specialistUltimately, the decision about which type of catheter you should use will come down to your prescribing healthcare professional's assessment of your condition and personal needs. 

When you contact 180 Medical to discuss your catheter options, you can feel confident that you're speaking with a specialist who will take time to listen to all your concerns and preferences and find the right product to suit your individual needs. We have employees on staff with personal experience of using intermittent catheters daily, and 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 male catheter options with you! 

Related Posts:
carry male catheters discreetly 10 Ways to Carry
Your Catheters Discreetly
catheters 101 all about intermittent cathetersCatheters 101:
All About Catheters

Dealing with Incontinence After a Stroke

by Catheter Experts June 2 2014 11:39
Did you know that the month of May is Stroke Awareness Month? It's not only important to be aware of the symptoms of a stroke and to act F.A.S.T.; it's also important to know that lingering side effects such as incontinence after a stroke are not uncommon. If you're experiencing some difficulty controlling your bladder after you've recovered from a stroke, you're not alone!

Take a look at this helpful infographic about incontinence post-stroke!

incontinence after a stroke

WOC Nurse Week

by Jessica April 16 2014 16:46
Sunday, April 13th, kicked off the beginning of WOC Nurse Week, which will last until April 19th. During this week, we here at 180 Medical honor and recognize the many wonderful WOC nurses across the nation. The ultimate goal of this week is to educated and make other aware of the work that WOC nurses do every day.

What is a WOC Nurse?

wocn week WOC stands for the areas in which a nurse specializes: Wound, Ostomy, and Continence. So WOC nurses specifically care and help treat patients with wounds, ostomies (urostomy, colostomy, &/or ileostomy), and/or any continence issues, such as bowel or bladder incontinence.

During a recent study conducted in home health care settings, it was found that WOC nurses can greatly affect patient improvement levels. Per this study, patients who were taken care of by a WOC (as opposed to patients who did not have a WOC nurse) were:

  • Nearly twice as likely to have improvement in pressure ulcers.
  • 20% more likely to have improvement in lower extremity ulcers.
  • 40% more likely to have improvement in surgical wounds.
  • 40% more likely to have improvement in urinary incontinence.
  • 14% more likely to have improvement in bowel incontinence.
Above information can be found at

Join Us in Honoring WOC Nurse Week

In closing, we'd like to say a special thank you to all WOC Nurses, including those with whom we are privileged to have worked with and continue to serve and those who help take care of our customers every day! We appreciate and honor your compassion, your care, and your knowledge in your field of specialization!

About the Author:

Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for 4 years and currently holds the title of Purchasing Coordinator. Her favorite things about 180 Medical are her great co-workers and getting to work for such a fun, caring company.

8 Frequently Asked Questions About Catheters

by Catheter Experts March 10 2014 13:41
Urinary incontinence is unfortunately a common issue among many today. There are several men, women and children who are affected by it and their physical and social well-being are often impacted. Fortunately, with self-catheterization, you can safely and effectively control your bladder and reduce the likelihood of bladder and kidney infections.

To help you better understand catheters, we've examined the eight most frequently asked questions about catheters, along with answers.

1. What is a catheter?

A catheter is a small rubber or plastic tube that is placed in your bladder to drain your urine. Catheters are available in a number of different sizes, styles and materials. You will need to do some experimenting to determine which kind works best.

2. How does it work?

Self-catheterization only takes a few minutes and is rather easy. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, and you may use clean disposal gloves if you prefer. Lubricate the tube with a water-soluble lubricant and carefully insert it into the urethra. Once the tube reaches the bladder, the urine should begin flowing through the catheter naturally. When it stops flowing, slowly remove the catheter. If it's your first time, you may want to ask your doctor to show you how to use it. After some practice, it will get easier.

3. Why do I need one?

A catheter is necessary if your bladder cannot hold all of your urine or you cannot empty your bladder completely. The catheter helps to drain and empty your bladder.

4. How long does it take to empty my bladder with a catheter?

This will ultimately depend on the diameter of the catheter and how much urine you need to release. Typically, a few seconds to a minute is the average time.

5. How will I know if it has entered my bladder?

Typically, once the catheter has entered your bladder, urine should begin to flow out of the catheter, which will continue until your bladder is fully empty.

6. When can I remove it?

You can remove the catheter once the flow of urine has stopped.

7. How often can I use a catheter?

Usually catheters are used infrequently, but it is OK to use them more regularly. This will depend upon your individual health needs. You may want to speak to your doctor if you're unsure.

8. Are there complications involved in using a catheter?

You may feel a slight burning sensation after removing the catheter, but this will pass with time and use. The more practice you have in using a catheter, the more comfortable it will become. There may also be an increased risk of Urinary Tract Infections, as well. If you encounter any symptoms of a UTI such as consistent burning in the urethra, feeling an urge to urinate more frequently than usual, fever, or cloudy urine, consult your doctor. You can reduce the risk of UTIs by using your catheter one time only.

Please note that this is intended to provide a general understanding of urinary catheters. It should not be used in place of a visit, call, or consultation with a physician or other health care provider. Please let us know if you have any questions, we'd be happy to help.

Knowing Your Bladder: Incontinence

by Catheter Experts February 17 2014 14:11
Know Your Bladder: Incontinence

Traveling by Air with Urinary Catheters

by billf April 16 2013 11:07

traveling by air with urinary catheters

Traveling with urinary catheters can be a bit intimidating, especially for people who are new to cathing. 180 Medical likes to keep our patients well informed, and up to speed with the latest urological research, news, and tips.

I spoke with Bill, who works for 180 Medical, for some tips on cathing while traveling. He was kind enough to give some very helpful tips. Bill was injured in a motocross accident over 23 years ago and has real world experience traveling as a quadriplegic.

bill f 180 medical employeeContact the Airline

One of the first things to do is to contact the airline you will be traveling with and inquire if the airline has any special procedures for traveling with catheters. The airline should advise of procedures you should follow. Ask if the equipment you bring on board meets Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines and follow some basic hygiene steps during the flight.

I have never had a problem with the airlines questioning why I am carrying the catheters and supplies, but if you are concerned you can always contact the airline you are traveling with and let them know.

Carry-on Bag Regulations

TSA has established air travel laws and regulations pertaining to liquids. For carry-on bags, you must place all liquids of 3.4 oz or less must fit on one quart-sized, clear, plastic zipper-lock bag. If your catheters have a water packet, they would need to be placed in the clear bag. Since medications are an exception to the rule, the catheters with water packets might be okay, with doctor documentation, but check with the airline to make sure. If you have lubricant, make sure it is 3.4oz or less, and it would also need to go in a clear plastic bag. For those who use lubricant with their catheters, the airline should be okay with it as it is required to catheterize.  You should not be limited on how much you can take, but keep it with your catheters so it will be more apparent what it is used for.  I have not had a problem with leakage but it might not be a bad idea to put the lubricant into a plastic bag. 

Pack the majority of your supplies in your check in luggage, but take enough on your carry on bag to last you until you get to your destination plus a few extra. One other option would be to ship your supplies to your destination. This way you don't have to worry about carrying around the extra load in your luggage.

Bring Extra Catheters

Count the number of catheters you will need for your trip.  It is a good idea to take enough extra catheters to last an extra day or two in case of unforeseen circumstances. This also includes lubricant and other supplies you use to catheterize.

Closed System Catheters

traveling by air with cathetersMany people prefer to use a more advanced catheter while traveling to try and reduce the chance of getting an infection. These catheters do not require lubricant and some are designed to where you don’t even touch the catheter which are called closed system catheters. Some people whose insurance will not cover them often purchase them just for traveling.

Antibacterial Wipes

If you will be catheterizing in the public restrooms it’s a good idea to carry some antibacterial hand wipes, such as wet ones, to wipe off your hands and urethra before catheterizing.

Restroom on Plane

If you are unable to use the restroom on the plane and your flight lasts longer than you can wait to catheterize there are a couple of options you can take.  One option is to use a Foley catheter while traveling. By doing this, you would only need to empty your leg bag if it fills to capacity before you reach your destination.  If it did fill up before landing you could always ask a stewardess for something to empty it into if necessary.  Some people will put a blanket over them and will catheterize in their seat.  

Visit the Transportation Security Administration website for more information and travel tips for carry-ons:

Editor's Additional Resources:
Delta's travel information for those with disabilities or wheelchair users
Card Issued for Air Travelers with Disabilities

10 ways to carry catheters discreetly
10 Ways to Carry
Catheters Discreetly 
traveling with catheters
 Traveling With

About the Authors:

Bill has worked for 180 Medical for almost ten years in various positions within the company. He works at the 180 Medical corporate headquarters in Oklahoma City, OK. He often speaks to customers about adjusting to life after a spinal cord injury. Read more about Bill here.

Trish Eklund has worked for 180 Medical for almost three years, as the Nebraska Office Coordinator. She lives in Nebraska, with her husband and daughters. 

180 Medical Shows Support to Urology Professionals in Oklahoma

by admin March 6 2013 15:30

180 Medical is just as passionate about nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals as we are our customers. It is important to us to show our support by participating in conferences, such as SUNA (Society of Urological Nurses and Associates).

Since 1972, SUNA has been advancing urologic nursing practice and patient care. They are dedicated to providing top-quality education programs and networking opportunities to members. SUNA publishes a professional, peer-reviewed bi-monthly journal (Urologic Nursing Journal) and a bi-monthly newsletter (Uro-Gram). SUNA establishes the scope and standards of urologic nursing practice and the scope and standards of advanced urologic nursing practice. SUNA provides scholarships, grants and awards to deserving nurses and other health care professionals. SUNA is a professional organization committed to excellence in evidence-based clinical practice, research, and education of its members, patients, families, and the community.

180 Medical recently had an exhibit at the OSUA (Oklahoma State Urological Association) Annual Meeting that they had in conjunction with the Oklahoma Chapter of SUNA in Tulsa, Oklahoma. OSUA is dedicated to study, discuss, and exchange information, experiences, and ideas in the field of urology and to engender a high quality of urological education for urologic nurses and allied health professionals. One of our Urologic Territory Managers, Michael Pampalone, represented 180 Medical while exhibiting at the meeting.

It is of the utmost importance to 180 Medical to support the community, education regarding urological research, practices, and services. SUNA and OSUA are wonderful resources to the community and we are proud to have been a part of the conference.

About the Author:

Trish has worked for 180 Medical for almost three years as the Nebraska Office Coordinator. She lives in Nebraska with her husband and daughters.


Know the Differences of Female Incontinence

by Catheter Experts October 17 2011 16:46
Female incontinence is a very common problem, and it doesn't just affect elderly women. While the statistic is high in women above age 60 – over 50% of women in that age group require the use of female catheters – the problem reaches every age group. Female incontinence is reported to affect 7% of women aged 20 to 39, and 17% of women 40 to 59.

Female incontinence is categorized into three types based on the cause of the incontinence; female catheters are usually only necessary for two of those types.

Stress Incontinence

The mildest form of female incontinence is stress incontinence: this type is categorized by a few drops of urine escaping when pressure if placed on the bladder muscles. The stress can be from something as simple as coughing or laughing, or from something more strenuous like lifting a heavy weight – it’s the most common type of female incontinence and is typically the form experienced by the younger age group. Childbirth can also trigger stress incontinence, since the pelvis and abdominal muscles are experiencing intense strain.

Stress incontinence does not require the use of female catheters, but can be treated with medication or physical therapy. Kegel exercises are often an effective treatment, involving the contraction and relaxation of the muscles used for regulation of urine flow.

Urge Incontinence

Often called overactive bladder or OAB, urge incontinence is characterized by a strong need to urinate and a loss of bladder control. The muscle controlling urine flow almost becomes paralyzed, and urine flow cannot be inhibited.

This type of female incontinence can be triggered by an infection, muscular or neurological disease, or even a simple irritation. The latter is temporary and does not always require the use of female catheters to treat the problem, while disease is usually degenerative and may necessitate the use of catheters for a lifetime. If the cause is an infection, female catheters may be used to relieve the symptoms for the duration of the infection. Medication and physical therapy may be useful to lessen the effects of an overactive bladder, but often are not entirely successful at alleviating female incontinence completely.

Overflow Incontinence

Overflow incontinence is often indicative of bladder problems or neurological disease and damage.  This form is characterized by an increased frequency of urination and an inability of the bladder to empty completely during urination. More often than not, physical therapy is not successful for overflow incontinence; female catheters can be an effective form of treatment by emptying the bladder entirely. Other treatments include stimulation of the muscles for urinary control by electrical impulses: this can enhance the bladder’s ability to contract and relax normally, emptying the contents entirely. Insertion of a blockage device in the urethra can also effectively treat female incontinence.  

Because of the prevalence of female incontinence, many women consider it “normal”. But whether treatment is a simple exercise or the use of a female catheter, there is no need to suffer the stresses and worries of urinary incontinence. You’re not alone, and you don’t need to suffer alone.  Be sure to talk to your doctor about the correct female catheters for your needs.