Intermittent Urinary Catheters – Buying Guide

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Intermittent catheterization is a process of emptying urine from the bladder on a regular basis and intermittent urinary catheters help in doing so. These catheters are used several times a day to pass the urine. They can be removed after passing the urine and are not required to be worn continuously throughout the day. Intermittent catheters are ideal for people with incontinence, urinary retention and severe bladder problems. They help in providing more independence and freedom of movement.

How to Choose the Right Intermittent Catheter?

Choosing the right intermittent catheter is essential for the successful catheterization. It reduces the chances of having bladder spasms and urethral damage. While buying an intermittent urinary catheter, consider the following parameters to best satisfy your urological requirements:

Types of Catheter

Two basic types of intermittent catheters, based on whether they have a lubricated coating or not, are coated and uncoated catheters.

  • Uncoated Catheter: Uncoated intermittent catheter is required to be coated with an anesthetic gel or a lubricating jelly before inserting.
  • Coated Catheter: Coated intermittent catheter comes coated with a hydrophilic coating, ready-to-use solution or gel to reduce the chances of developing urethral damage. It is smooth and easy to insert and remove.

Catheter Tips

Intermittent urinary catheters usually come with two types of tips, namely, straight tip and coude tip.

  • Straight tip: Straight tip catheters are widely used for men, women and children. This type of tip is recommended for situations where urethral narrowing, enlarged prostate or other urological complications does not occur.
  • Coude tip: Coude or curved tip helps in traversing the obstacles in urethra like enlarged prostate and urethral stricture. Since these complications are common in men, coude tip usually comes along with male length catheters.

 Catheter Tips

Length of the Catheter

Intermittent catheters have three types of lengths – pediatric, female and male. Since women and children have shorter urethral lengths, intermittent catheters with the short length are recommended for them. If you choose a catheter longer than required, it may create handling issues. If you choose a catheter shorter than required, it may lead to improper emptying of bladder.

  • Pediatric length catheters generally have 6-12 inches of length.
  • Female length catheters generally have 6-8 inches of length.
  • Male length catheters generally have 16 inches of length.

 Catheter Lengths

Catheter Size (Diameter)

Catheter size is the diameter of intermittent urinary catheter, measured in French size (Fr). It is important to consider while choosing a catheter. If the catheter diameter is larger than required, it can cause urethral damage and if it is too small, it can take a long time to drain the urine.

Since everyone has a unique body structure, there exists no single size that fits all. You should consult your medical professional to find the size that best fits your anatomy. The right size will let you have proper urine flow without any discomfort or pain.

Catheter Ends

Intermittent urinary catheters have two types of ends – funnel ends and luer ends.

  • Funnel Ends: Funnel ends are usually color-coded to help identify the French size of the catheter. They prevent contamination by providing easy grip to hold the catheter, without any need of touching the tube. Funnel ends can also be attached to the drainage bags.
  • Luer Ends: Luer ends look like the ends of an open tube and do not contain any funnel. They provide a compact and discreet packaging and are easy to carry along while going out.

 Catheter Ends

Material of the Catheter

Along with the above-mentioned parameters, catheter material should also be considered while choosing an intermittent urinary catheter.

  • Vinyl/PVC: Catheters made up of vinyl or poly vinyl chloride have a smooth surface. They are firm enough to provide easy insertion and soft enough to provide slight pliability. Such catheters have a clear surface to let you view through the surface.
  • Red Rubber/Latex: Red rubber or latex catheters feature thermo-sensitive surface that warms up according to the surrounding temperature. They are super soft and that is why sometimes become difficult to insert.
  • Silicone: Silicone catheters have a super-smooth surface. Their flexibility ranges between vinyl and latex. They are firmer than latex and more flexible than vinyl catheters. Silicone catheters are a good alternative for people with latex allergies as these catheters do not contain latex.

Steps to Male Intermittent Catheterization

  1. Arrange your clothes in such a way that they do not interfere with the process of catheterization.
  2. Wash your hands nicely with soap and water to prevent infection.
  3. Wash your penis nicely for clean intermittent catheterization.
  4. Take the catheter and lubricate its ends for easy insertion.
  5. Hold the penis at an angle of 45 degrees and slowly try to insert the catheter about 6 inches.
  6. If you feel any restriction, hold for a second, take a deep breath and resume insertion with gentle pressure.
  7. Once the urine starts flowing, insert the catheter about 1 inch more.
  8. If you are using a Coude tip intermittent catheter, advance it with the curved tip pointing upwards.
  9. Put the other end of the intermittent urinary catheter into a container or urinal.
  10. Let the urine drain completely.
  11. Once the urine stops flowing, slowly pull out the catheter.

Steps to Female Intermittent Catheterization

  1. Arrange your clothes in such a way that you can administer the whole process of catheterization without any interference.
  2. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  3. Spread the labia and thoroughly wash your urinary opening (meatus) with soap and water to maintain hygienic conditions.
  4. Lubricate the ends of the catheter for easy insertion.
  5. Use your second and fourth fingers to separate the labia and with the help of the third finger find the meatus.
  6. Slowly insert the catheter for about 2 to 3 inches. If you feel any obstruction in the way, hold for a second, take a deep breath and resume insertion with slight pressure.
  7. Once the urine starts flowing, insert the catheter about 1 inch more.
  8. Put the other end of the intermittent urinary catheter into a container or urinal.
  9. Let the urine drain out completely.
  10. When the flow of urine stops, gently pull out the catheter.



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