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February 12, 2021

The Most Common Catheter Questions

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Catheter FAQs

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Catheter FAQ: You Ask, We Answer

Using a catheter may sound scary or difficult, but don’t worry – US MED can help. In this article, we’ll share answers to some of the most common questions we hear about catheters. Whether you’ve just started using a catheter or you’re planning to start using one soon, read on to find out everything you need (and want) to know about catheter use!

What Are The Different Types Of Catheters?

There are three main types of catheters you should know about:

  1. Intermittent catheters are inserted by their user (or a caregiver) while emptying the bladder and removed after use.
  2. Indwelling catheters are left in place between uses, and are normally in place for a period of 1 month. The most common variety of indwelling catheter is known as a “Foley catheter,” and is held in place by a small, fluid-filled balloon.
  3. External catheters are typically used for urine collection in men. They are also known as “condom catheters,” since they are worn like condoms.

The type of catheter you’ll end up using depends on your individual situation, and you may even use more than one type over the course of your treatment. For instance, if you’re suffering from severe bladder damage, you might start by using an indwelling catheter for a few days to allow your bladder to drain. Once this is done, you may be able to transition to using an intermittent catheter.

As a side note, there are also two different types of catheter tips – straight and “coudé,” or curved. The latter variety is named after the curve at its end, as “coudé” is the French word for “elbow.” Many catheter users use straight tips, but coudé tips can help patients who are dealing with blockages, enlarged prostates, or other issues.

Do Catheter Brands Matter?

Plastic Catheters Straight Tip

Like any product, there are some differences between catheters depending on their brand – and when using this type of product, you’ll want to be sure you’re going with a brand you can rely on. As a result, it’s important to do your research to make sure the catheter you choose will be the right one for your needs.

To make things easier for you, the catheters we sell at US MED are uniformly high-quality. As a company that has served hundreds of thousands of end users, we’ve made sure to only stock catheters from some of the most trusted brands out there.

Do Catheters Have Side Effects?

One potential side effect of catheter use is catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI). These infections can cause symptoms like stomach pain, fever, and a burning feeling during urination. To lower your risk of infection, always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling your catheter and related equipment. Make sure to follow any additional instructions from your healthcare team regarding catheter use, as well.

Other side effects of catheter use may include:

  • Bladder spasms
  • Blockages in the catheter tube
  • Leakage
  • Injury to the urethra or bladder

Are Catheters Painful?

While any type of catheter takes some getting used to, there are a few simple steps you can take to avoid pain related to catheter use.

  • When using an intermittent catheter, make sure to apply lubricant before insertion. You can also use a hydrophilic catheter which comes pre-lubricated and requires no application of lube from the end user.
  • If you’re feeling tense while inserting your catheter, it can actually make the insertion process more difficult. Before you insert the catheter, take some deep breaths to relax as much as possible.
  • Symptoms like itching or hives during catheter use can indicate that you have a latex allergy. In this case, you’ll want to find a latex-free catheter.
  • As always, wash your hands before and after using a catheter – groin and/or abdomen pain is one sign of a catheter-related UTI.

By following these steps, you should be able to keep any discomfort associated with catheter use to a minimum. If you’re experiencing catheter-related pain or discomfort and these steps don’t help, notify your doctor as soon as possible.

Are There Unisex Catheter Options?

Since the male urethra is significantly longer than the female urethra, standard male catheters are longer than standard female catheters. However, some women – including plus-size women and women who use wheelchairs – may need the additional length provided by a male catheter.

How Do I Care For My Catheter?

When using a catheter, make sure to clean it and change/wash your drainage bags on a regular basis. You can clean an indwelling catheter while showering, and you’ll want to change drainage bags twice each day.

Can Men And Women Have Sex With Catheters?

People using indwelling catheters can continue sexual activity – men can fold their catheter alongside their erect penis and keep it in place with a condom, while women can tape their catheter onto their stomach. Before sexual intercourse, be sure to wash around the catheter. As always, check with your doctor before resuming sexual activity with a catheter.

Order Your Catheter Today

Now that you’ve learned a thing or two about the different types of catheters, how to take care of them, and more, you might be ready to order a catheter of your own. If so, take a look at US MED’s catheters and catheter supplies. You’ll benefit from our free home delivery and the assistance provided by our customer care team. As an added bonus, when you order your catheter from us, we’ll throw in a carrying case free of charge! Reordering your catheter is easy, as we offer reorder reminders by text and email.

Looking for even more information on catheter use? If so, check out US MED’s blog articles on living with a long-term catheter and catheter self-management.

Rusty Peck

Medical Review by Rusty Peck, Director of Sales (Catheter / CGM / Insulin Pump)

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