Male Catheter Introduction

Male Catheter Guide

A catheter is a device that helps release urine from the bladder and has been helping patients with urinary issues for decades. For males, there are three types of catheters to choose from, which are intermittent catheters, indwelling catheters and external catheters. In this article, we will look at all three types of catheters, the difference of male catheters verses female catheters and the potential problems that can arise with use of each of these types of catheters.

Types of Male Catheters

Intermittent Catheters: Intermittent catheters, also known as Robinson catheters, are flexible tubes, usually made out of rubber, that are inserted into the bladder through the urethra to allow urine to be released from the bladder. Intermittent catheters are to be used as a single use only during self-catheterization and then should be discarded. There are several different types of intermittent catheters such as ones with a straight tip or with a coude (curved) tip. One can also get extensions for the intermittent catheter if they have trouble during self-catheterization. Some self catheters require lube to be added during insertion and some come with lube already added. You can also obtain intermittent catheters that are part of a closed system, meaning everything is sterile, the catheter is pre-lubricated, and a bag is attached for urine drainage. Closed system catheters help cut down on risk of infection because they are touchless and provide more convenience for self-catheterization because of the urinary drain bag being attached to the catheter. The closed system catheter makes it easy to relieve your bladder in all kinds of situations and you can have confidence that the closed system will help cut down on the risk of a urinary tract infection.

Indwelling Catheters: Indwelling catheters are similar to intermittent catheters in design, but the difference is that an indwelling catheter has a balloon that is filled with sterile water after the catheter is inserted into the bladder and this balloon allows the catheter to remain stationed in the bladder for periods of time. The balloon works as a stopper, which prevents the catheter from falling out of the point of insertion. The indwelling catheter also remains attached to a urine collection bag. The most popular type of an indwelling catheter and how it is most often referred to, is the foley catheter. The foley catheter can be inserted into the urethra or through a surgical entrance call the suprapubic. A suprapubic catheter is also a type of foley catheter, but is inserted into a surgical hole in the abdomen just above the pubic bone and allows access to the bladder. The foley catheter stays in place allowing a constant drainage of urine from the bladder into a urine collection bag. It may be used short term after a surgical procedure or may be used on an on-going basis for patients suffering from urinary retention, urinary incontinence, or bladder stones. It is important to always keep the urine collection bag below the level of the bladder and never allow the bag to become completely full. The urine collection bags come in different sizes and there are also smaller bags, known as “leg bags”, than can be worn underneath clothes.

External Catheters: External catheters are catheters that are not required to be inserted into the bladder, but instead fits onto the penis externally. External catheters are also known as “condom catheters”, “urisheat catheters” or “Texas catheters”, with the most common referral to this catheter being known as the condom catheter. Unlike the intermittent catheter, this type of catheter prevents damage to the urethra. The condom catheter is placed onto the penis just liked how you would put a condom on. The condom catheter contains adhesive, which allows the catheter to remain positioned onto the penis. The catheter is then connected to a tube that is connected to a urine collection bag. Condom catheters need to be changed and disposed of every 24 hours in order to prevent urinary tract infections, urethra blockage and skin irritation. These catheters come in several different sizes and you can choose ones that have latex or ones that are latex-free.

How is a male catheter different from a female catheter?

There are many differences between male and female catheters. The male intermittent catheter comes in several different lengths and widths different from that of the female intermittent catheter. Female intermittent catheters are much shorter than male intermittent catheters.

Indwelling catheters, like the intermittent catheter, is also smaller in length for women and comes in different sizes, verses the sizes of male indwelling catheters. Other than the size difference, male and female indwelling catheters have many of the same characteristics.

External catheters are mainly used by men. There is an external catheter for women, which is in the form of an external pouch. The external catheter for women is used rarely and has not been fully proven to be effective due to its many flaws.

Problems that may arise with Male Catheters

Using intermittent catheters are generally low-risk when it comes to potential problems and often considered to be the best choice of catheter because without a foreign object constantly in the bladder, it reduces the risk of infection. However, one potential problem with intermittent catheters is bacteria entering into the urethra and then into the bladder, which could then cause a urinary tract infection. To avoid this potential problem, it is important to always wash your hands before and after self-catheterization, empty your bladder frequently, and always clean the insertion area really well. Using a closed system intermittent catheter will also help cut down on the risk of infection. Patients may also experience some discomfort or pain during the insertion of the catheter, unlike the condom catheter which is painless. The other downside to using an intermittent catheter is that you have to self-catheterize every 4-6 hours and some people find this to be an inconvenience of lifestyle.

There are many problems that can occur when using an indwelling catheter. Although the indwelling catheter provides convenience for lifestyle due the fact of not having to self-catheterize every 4-6 hours, using an indwelling catheter can cause damage to the bladder wall, infections in the bladder, bladder or kidney stones, infection in the kidneys, increased chance of getting bladder cancer, and hematuria (blood in the urine). The most common problem from using an indwelling catheter is bladder infections, which can lead to more serious issues such as kidney infections or blood infections. Patients with indwelling catheters may also experience pain and discomfort during insertion of the catheter or during the time the catheter is stationed in the bladder.

Many enjoy external catheters due to the freedom in lifestyle by not having to worry about self-catheterization, the low cost of purchasing this type of catheter, not having to worry about pain associated with indwelling and intermittent catheters, and the fact that it cuts down on the risk of infection because you are not self-catheterizing. However, it is still possible to contract a urinary tract infection with an external catheter. One of the biggest issues with the external catheter is skin irritation due to the urine sitting on the skin inside of the condom part of the catheter. It is also very important to make sure that you are using the correct size of external catheter, or the bands of the catheter can cause too much pressure around the base of the penis. Males who have penises that retract have also had issues with urine leakage due to the external catheter coming unattached from the penis when the penis retracts inward.

The Duette™ Catheter

Poiesis Medical has created the Duette™ catheter, a new type of foley catheter, that is helping to relieve a lot of the flaws caused by the traditional foley catheter. The Duette™ catheter helps protect the bladder wall from damage, allows the bladder wall to heal, helps lower the risk of urinary tract infections, as well as, lowering the risk of bladder cancer.

To find out more about this revolutionary design of a foley catheter, please visit to learn more.

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