A urinary catheter (often referred to simply as a catheter) is a narrow, flexible tube used to drain or carry urine away from your body. Some types of catheters are inserted into the body, while others are external. Your healthcare provider may recommend a catheter after surgery on the prostate or genitals, if you suffer from urinary incontinence, urinary retention, or other issues. Understanding how to find a suitable catheter for your needs is crucial.
What Are the Types of Catheters?
Catheters can be divided into four basic categories:
- Indwelling catheters, also known as Foley catheters, are inserted through the urethra and drain into a bag. They are intended for short-term, such as overnight use.
- Intermittent catheters are also inserted through the urethra, but they are removable and are used on an as-needed basis to drain the bladder several times per day. Intermittent catheters can be self-inserted and don’t require a urine collection bag.
- Suprapubic catheters are meant for long-term use (up to a month) and require a minor surgical procedure to place.
- External catheters work differently for men and women.
Male external catheters resemble a condom with a tube attached. The tube is attached to a collection container.
Female external catheters consist of a moisture-wicking pad situated in a soft but solid shell positioned between the labia. A tube connects this apparatus to a collection container, and as fluid soaks the moisture-wicking pad, it is drawn away and drains through the tube into the collection container.
What Factors Should You Consider When Buying a Catheter?
There’s little to consider with external catheters since they sit outside the body and are one-size-fits-most devices. Suprapubic catheters are professionally inserted, so your doctor will provide the suitable catheter to you. But with the indwelling and intermittent catheters, several factors can play a role in choosing the right option.
Size. A catheter diameter comes in increments of “Frenches” (Fr), equal to roughly 1/3 of a millimeter. Finding the most comfortable fit may take some experimentation, though most men require 14 – 16 Fr and most women 10 – 12 Fr. Talk to your doctor about finding the best fit for your body.
Length. For the catheter to fit correctly and work properly, it must be the right length. Catheters for men are generally at least 16 inches long, while those for women are usually between six and eight. Your doctor can help you choose the correct length for your needs.
Type of tip. Catheters have one of two different types of tip: straight or curved. Straightforward tips are the standard type of tip and are most common. Curved tips are designed for people whose urethra or bladder entrance is bumpy, which can impede the insertion of a straight tip. Your doctor can help you decide which type is most appropriate.
You will also need to decide whether you want pre-lubricated catheters or buy lubrication separately. Depending on the type of catheter you have, you may require accessories such as a drainage bag holder or a catheter tube holder.
Buying a catheter and catheter supplies do not have to be complicated. Talk to your doctor about what is best for your situation and Visit Simply Medical today for all your catheter needs.