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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! 

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