male catheter

More than a million people die from kidney failure every year. That's why the WHO is pushing to make kidney disease one of the top five most fatal non-infectious diseases in the world. 

Did you know that urine buildup in the bladder is one of the causes of kidney failure? The good news is that you can easily prevent this issue by emptying your bladder when you can and wearing a male catheter when you can't. 

Male catheters are hollow tubes inserted into the bladder and directed into a drainage bag. In other words, they help you go when you can't do it on your own.

Has your physician prescribed you a male catheter? If so, you're probably wondering what catheters are, the different types available, and how you use them.

You're in luck because today we're giving you the answer to all of these questions and more. Check out this article for everything you need to know. 

Why are Men Prescribed Catheters?

When injury, illness, or surgery leaves a man unable to relieve himself, a physician typically prescribes a catheter. That's because a catheter collects urine from your bladder and redirects it to a drainage bag outside of your body. 

Sounds uncomfortable? Male catheters can be. Considering the consequences of not wearing one, though, you may feel better about your new medical device. 

Here's what we mean: when you can't empty your bladder normally, urine builds up. This exerts pressure on the nearby kidneys, which is known to cause damage.

Damage includes urinary tract infections (UTIs) and distended bladder. In the worst cases, pressure on the kidneys can lead to long-term damage and even kidney failure. 

Luckily, medical researchers have come up with an ingenious device designed to help with this problem: the catheter. We're exploring the three most common types of male catheters next, so keep reading. 

The 3 Types of Male Catheters

Catheters come in many sizes, shapes, and materials depending on your specific needs. For example, you can get a catheter made of rubber, plastic, or silicone. If you have a silicone allergy, your physician may prescribe an alternative rubber or plastic one. 

Another consideration is the type of catheter you need. Let's explore the three most common types of catheters for men.

Indwelling Catheters

Urethral and suprapubic catheters are also known as Foley catheters or indwelling catheters.

These devices are inserted into the bladder via the urethra (a urethral catheter). Conversely, they may be inserted into a small hole in your abdominal region (a suprapubic catheter).

Once a nurse puts the catheter in place, he or she will inflate a small chamber at the end of the catheter tube. This holds the catheter inside the body and keeps it from falling out or sliding around. 

External Catheters

External catheters are also called condom catheters. Why? Because these devices feature a collection sheath that fits over the head of the penis like a condom.

The sheath is made with an adhesive backing that secures to the penis skin. The catheter tube extends from the tip of the penis to the emptying bag, which is located outside of the body. 

Short-Term Catheters

Short-term or intermittent catheters are also known as in-and-out catheters for a reason. These devices offer the ultimate patient or caregiver control. 

Here's what we mean: in the hospital, a nurse will insert a catheter connecting your genitals to your bladder. When you need to relieve yourself, you insert another catheter into your bladder via a hole in your urethra or in the abdomen. 

Once you insert the tube, you wait for the emptying bag to fill. Then, you remove the catheter and go about your day. 

Sound too complicated? Don't worry because short-term catheterization is actually quite simple once you get the hang of it. Plus, these catheters offer the benefit of being extremely safe as compared to the alternatives. 

Which Type of Male Catheter Do You Need?

Of course, the primary benefit of a male catheter is being able to relieve your bladder. Depending on the length of time you need a catheter, though, determines exactly which of the three most common types of male catheters you'll need. 

The Benefits of Indwelling Catheters

Indwelling catheters were once used for both short- and long-term care of urine leakage and retention issues.

Today, most physicians only recommend this type of catheter for short-term care. While most organizations define "short-term" as fewer than 30 days, the European Association of Urology Nurses defines short-term as 14 days or less

Why so much concern about long-term use? Indwelling catheters confer a high risk of infection. In fact, indwelling catheters are the #1 cause of healthcare-associated UTIs. 

If that sounds too risky for you, ask your physician about using one of the other two types of male catheters.

The Benefits of External Catheters

Physicians don't usually prescribe external catheters to patients with urinary retention problems. These catheters are more useful for individuals with mental or functional handicaps. For example, dementia. 

The good thing about external catheters is that they tend to be much safer than indwelling ones. This is particularly true regarding infection.

The only downside to external catheters is that they do need to be changed more frequently. Most manufacturers recommend switching them out daily while some others design external catheters for longer wear. 

The Benefits of Short-Term Catheters

In general, intermittent catheters are the safest type of catheter. Physicians typically recommend them for patients who suffer from:

  • Urinary retention
  • Incontinence
  • Other severe bladder problems

Your doctor may also prescribe a short-term catheter if you have prostate or genital surgery. An abdominal hysterectomy is another common reason for prescribing an intermittent catheter. 

The Final Word on Catheters for Men

Getting a male catheter can be a big life change. As long as you understand how to use your catheter and talk to your physician about issues as soon as they arise, though, you have nothing to fear. 

Looking for a male catheter from a medical device supplier you can trust? Check out our home medical supplies today to find the catheter that works best for you!