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Guide: Types of Male Catheters and their Uses

If you've done any research into male catheters, you may have become overwhelmed with the number of options available to you. At Summit Xpress, we strive to provide the best customer service in medical urology supplies and this includes education.

Let's go over the types of male catheters available, and why you and your doctor may choose one type of catheter over another.

But first, let’s establish why you need to use an intermittent catheter in the first place.

Why You Need a Catheter?

If you are experiencing difficulty fully emptying your bladder (urinary retention) your doctor may recommend intermittent catheterization. This involves emptying your bladder with a catheter several times a day to remove the excess urine.

Urinary retention can be broken down into two categories, acute urinary retention, and chronic. Acute urinary retention entails a sudden loss of the ability to pass urine and can be life-threatening. Please seek a medical professional if you experience this.

Chronic urinary retention occurs over a longer period of time. Symptoms of chronic urinary retention may include:

  • Frequent trips to the bathroom

  • Mild discomfort in your pelvis or lower abdomen

  • Urine leaks throughout the day

  • Frequent nighttime trips to the bathroom

  • Difficulty telling when your bladder is full

  • Difficulty starting urination or continuing it

There are a host of complications associated with both acute and chronic urinary retention.

Complications of Urinary Retention

Retained urine in the bladder can lead to urinary tract infections. Bacteria are normally flushed out of the urinary tract each time you urinate. Smaller volumes of urine and a less complete flush can retain some of that bacteria putting you at risk for an infection.

Another complication involves urinary incontinence also known as urinary leaking. Retained urine in the bladder creates a constant pressure on the muscles controlling your bladder and the sphincter muscle that you use to start and stop urinating.

Urinary retention can also lead to bladder and kidney damage. That pressure in your bladder over long periods of time ends up stretching your bladder muscles. This can reduce your control over these muscles and reduce how much volume your bladder can squeeze out.

Retained urine can be forced back into your kidneys from the increased pressure in your bladder. This can lead to swelling and pressure in the tiny blood vessels in your kidneys which are responsible for filtering your blood.

These are a few reasons why your doctor may recommend intermittent catheterization. Now with a baseline established, let’s go over the types of male catheters.

What are the Three Types of Male Catheters?

Intermittent Catheter Types

This type of catheter for men is characterized by a thin tube to help empty the bladder. It is removed after your bladder is emptied. This is commonly referred to as an “in and out catheter.”

Inserting this device can be done at home or on the go. However, you have to undergo training on how to do the procedure correctly. Also, trained caregivers can help you in inserting this kind of device.

Three variations for an intermittent catheter for men:

Straight Intermittent Catheters

The first and most common catheter type is a straight male catheter. It comes uncoated with lubricant and is made of latex or silicone. This type of catheter will require a lubricant for easy insertion.

Most people prefer carrying single-use packets of sterile lubricating jelly. It’s hard to beat having your supplies in a discrete kit. You can get the lubricating jelly in bulk packaging as well, but you’ll give up the small kit.

Pre-Lubricated and Hydrophilic Male Catheters

This type of catheter is covered with a hydrophilic coating which is activated when met with water. The coating helps the catheter pass through the urethra; thus, reducing the irritation that can occur with frequent catheter use.

Many customers prefer hydrophilic male catheters as the system requires less touching. One risk with catheterization is causing a urinary tract infection with bacteria present on your hands. These catheters are also more self-contained requiring less extra equipment if you are on the go.

Closed System Catheter

A closed system catheter has a self-contained sterile drainage bag, which is desirable if you want to pack for travel, and if you are dependent on a wheelchair. This male catheter is preferred when you need to empty your bladder without having to find a toilet to drain into.

Alternative Types of Catheters:

Indwelling Catheter for Men (urethral or suprapubic catheter)

There are two variations for indwelling catheters: Foley Catheter and Suprapubic Catheter.

This variation will depend on how it will be inserted on your body. For example, a Foley catheter is inserted in your bladder via the urethra and usually stays in for 2 to 12 weeks. A Suprapubic catheter, on the other hand, is inserted through a tiny hole in your abdomen and usually stays in for 4 to 8 weeks.

Both catheters have a tiny balloon at the end, which is inflated with water. This will prevent the catheter from detaching from your body.

External Catheter Types (Condom Catheter)

There is an external type of catheter known as a condom catheter. It covers the penis and is connected to a drainage bag. Most users prefer it since it is comfortable and has a lesser risk of UTI compared to other catheter types.

Cleanliness is still very important with these condom catheters. They should not be worn for longer than two days.

What Makes a Good Catheter?

There are many different types of male catheters and deciding what works for you will require talking with your doctor. Your doctor is the best person to help when it comes to assessing your condition, such as when and how long do you need to continue using a catheter.

For your catheter needs, we at Summit Xpress Medical Supply have it all. We are a reputable supplier with many different types of catheters. We have been serving the community for years and have been accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC).

What Do We Offer?

Our Product

We have top brands of products to choose from, and we can provide you samples for different types of catheters.

Customer Support Hotline

We have a hotline to assist and update you on the latest and current products.

We also have a medical team that can help you when you want to renew your prescriptions.

Insurance and Billing

Insurance specialists are readily available to help you navigate billing and insurance.


We provide free shipping to any location in the US with discreet packaging for your privacy.


If you have a tight schedule and won’t be able to monitor your supplies, we will assist you and remind you about re-ordering each month. Hassle-free!

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