Urinary Catheter

Types of Catheters

The thought of having to use a catheter for urinary incontinence strikes fear in many people. However, knowing the different types of catheters can put your mind at ease. Often times your healthcare provider will be able to recommend the type of catheter they think would work best for you, however it is definitely a good idea to have a basic understanding of catheters when talking to your doctor about them.


Doctors may recommend the use of an indwelling catheter after an incontinence diagnosis. Knowing the specifics helps you understand what an indwelling catheter is for and how to use an indwelling catheter. An indwelling catheter, also known as a Foley catheter, is inserted into the bladder and allowed to remain in the bladder for a specific amount of time. This type of catheter has a balloon attached at one end and once inserted into the bladder is filled with sterile water preventing the catheter from leaving the bladder.


Depending on the type of incontinence, your doctor may recommend an external catheter. This catheter is used to treat male urinary incontinence. An external catheter, commonly known as a condom catheter, is geared specifically toward men. These types of catheters consist of a flexible sheath that directly slips over the penis and held in place by adhesive.


For people who suffer from urinary retention or unable to empty their bladder, a single-use or intermittent catheter solves the problem. A variety of single-use catheters are available.

  • Non-coated: Traditional single-use or intermittent catheters, non-coated catheters can be coated with a lubricant jelly or dipped in water depending on a person’s preference.
  • Coated: Coated catheters have a hydrophilic coating, activated by soaking the catheter in water for around 30 seconds before use which forms a slippery layer designed to ease catheterization.
  • Pre-lubricated: Pre-lubricated catheters are pre-packed with water-soluble gel coating and come ready to use.

When choosing the right single-use catheter, talk with your doctor. Your health insurance may also cover the expense of your incontinence supplies.

Catheter selection based on knowledge instead of speculation is vital to your urinary health. Knowing what types are available and how to use certain types will keep you from getting serious infections such as a urinary tract infection or bladder infection. Using the wrong catheter or inserting it incorrectly creates additional health issues. However, with enough information, you can avoid a trip to the emergency room or the urologist.

Additionally, talk with your doctor about the different types of catheters available to ensure you receive the right catheter for your incontinence needs. Every situation is different and knowing which catheter to use can quell your fears. If your doctor recommends the use of a catheter, be prepared to research various catheterization methods and ask your doctor the right questions about various catheters.

Information provided on the Aeroflow Urology blog is not intended as a substitute to medical advice or care. Aeroflow recommends consulting your healthcare provider if you are experiencing medical issues relating to incontinence.

2019-04-03T20:12:38+00:00May 3rd, 2016|