Choosing the Right Sized Catheter

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A urinary catheter is a simple tube-like device that is used by an individual to help expel urine from the body either directly into a bowl or into a drainage bag. Depending on the condition for which the catheter is required and based on the needs of the individual, there are different catheter types that can enhance your experience and aid in maintaining health and hygiene.

Types of Urinary Catheters

There are three major types of catheters that are divided based on their features and their usage methods. They are:

Intermittent Catheters

Intermittent catheters, as the name suggests, are catheters that are used for intermittent periods of time and are inserted into the bladder for a short duration to empty the bladder whenever needed. Intermittent catheters are designed for individuals who suffer from urinary retention which is generally caused due to enlarged prostate, neurogenic bladder syndrome, pelvic organ prolapse, etc. Intermittent catheters are great for self-catheterization.

Hydrophilic intermittent catheters are made from a material that binds water to its surface thus creating a natural lubricating surface for easy insertion of catheter. They are also intermittent in nature but do not need additional lubricant while usage. The hydrophilic coating on these catheters reduces friction as the catheter is inserted into the bladder thus reducing urethral damage and infection.

Indwelling Catheters

Indwelling catheters are designed to stay in the bladder for longer times and provide continuous drainage for an individual. Indwelling catheters are great for people who suffer from urinary retention as well as for those who suffer from incontinence. Indwelling catheters are usually prescribed to immobile patients and those who are bed-ridden since the usage of these catheters reduces the mobility of the individual. Always consult your doctor before choosing indwelling catheters.

External Catheters

External catheters, also known as condom catheters, are used by men to treat urinary incontinence. They are flexible catheters and are designed like a condom, sliding over the penis, and then connected to a bag. They are designed for people who suffer from incontinence and do not prefer invasive techniques. They are great for sudden leakage but are not effective if a person suffers from urinary retention.

Choosing the Right Sized Catheter

Catheter sizes are measured in French units or FR. Technically speaking, one FR is equal to 0.33 millimeters in terms of the diameter of the catheter. The FR size scale is only used for intermittent and indwelling catheters whereas external catheters are directly measured in millimeters.

The average size of a male intermittent or indwelling catheter is between 14FR to 16FR. For adult women, an intermittent or indwelling catheter ranges from 10FR to 12FR.

Catheters are also color-coded based on their French sizes.

  • Size 10FR – Black
  • Size 12FR – White
  • Size 14FR – Green
  • Size 16FR – Orange
  • Size 18FR – Red

Choosing the right sized catheter helps in efficiently managing incontinence and urological conditions. The wrong sized catheter can damage the urethra or bladder and can also be ineffective in managing your condition. At Shop Catheters, we have categorized tables for accurate FR sizes for each catheter so that you can comfortably choose the right size. 


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