Urological Differences of Men and Women and Popular Brands of Urinary Catheters

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Urology is an important, growing field of medical science. Continence care and catheterization are two aspects of urology affecting millions of individuals today. Urology and continence care is often a gender-specific issue. Mens’ and womens’ urological systems are very different; the causes, symptoms, and supplies for men and women vary based on personal anatomy. Outlined below is gender-specific information about continence care and catheterization, the types of catheters, and the popular brands/types of supplies for each.

Urinary catheters for men and women are fundamentally the same; a tube placed into the urethreal passage to drain urine from the bladder, however the anatomy and design of a catheter is specific to ones gender and physical needs. With men, a urinary catheter is inserted through the penis (with the exception of external catheters, discussed below). With women, catheter application may vary based on bladder position, which changes with age, childbirth, obesity, etc.

Gender Specific Types of Incontinence Using Urinary Catheters

Incontinence is the inability to control urinary function, or leaks. The causes vary between men and women. Incontinence is not normal, and it’s usually a symptom of a broader urological issue. Here are some common types of incontinence and the reasons for them:

  • Urge Incontinence: “Overactive bladder” is a typical way to describe urge incontinence. It is usually identified by a sudden, urgent need to urinate with little control of the bladder until a bathroom is reached. There are many reasons why one may experience Urge incontinence: strokes, urological nerve damage, cancer in the uterus, bladder, or prostate, prostatectomy, and bladder inflammation are some.
  • Stress Incontinence: Stress incontinence is the most common form among women, usually the result of external pressure on the bladder and weak pelvic muscles or a weakened wall between the bladder and the vagina. It is common around or during pregnancy and childbirth. When pressure is exerted on the bladder (running, coughing, sneezing, laughing), it causes urine to leak from the bladder. Many women protect from minor stress incontinence with pads and liners that fit inside of the underwear, and practice doing Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor.
  • Mixed Incontinence: Mixed incontinence describes any combination of types of incontinence. For instance, one may experience the symptoms of both urge incontinence and stress incontinence. It is distinguished as “mixed incontinence” since the causes may be unrelated and, therefore, need to be diagnosed independently.
  • Overflow Incontinence: This kind of incontinence is typically indicated by the inability to completely empty one’s bladder. The bladder often remains full, or partially full, which can result in the frequent feeling of the need to urinate and/or a constant and unpredictable dribbling of urine. It is often caused by weak bladder muscles, uretheral blockage, or occasionally by kidney stones or a tumor. A common cause of overflow incontinence in men is an enlarged prostate, blocking the urethral passage; this affects a significant percentage of men over the age of 50.
  • Temporary Incontinence: This form of incontinence is caused as the result of a temporary medical condition or an effect of certain medical treatments; infections, surgery or medication can all cause temporary incontinence.

Compare/Contrasting Gender Differences of Urinary Catheters

Intermittent Catheter – An intermittent catheter is a straight tube catheter placed inside of the urethral passage and into the bladder to drain the bladder internally. These may also be called “Robinson catheters”, and are designed for short-term drainage. Intermittent catheters are typically made of silicone or latex. Men’s intermittent catheters are usually around 16″ long. Female intermittent catheters are significantly shorter, usually around 6″ – 8″ long. Why such a wide difference in length? It’s anatomy; the path from the urethra to the bladder is much shorter for women than for men, so a smaller catheter is required.

Most Popular Intermittent Catheters: Mentor Coloplast Self-Cath Female Catheter Sterile with Luer End, Self-Cath Female Straight Tip Catheter, Mentor Coloplast Straight Tip 16 in. Funnel End Male Catheter, Rochester Magic3 Antibacterial Hydrophilic Male Intermittent Catheter

Foley Catheter – Foleys are indwelling catheters designed specifically to stay in place for long term use. These catheters are of ample length for both genders and have a balloon tip on the internal end that is inflated inside of the bladder with sterile water to keep the catheter in place. The outside tip has 2 or more ports on the outside end (one for drainage, one for inflating the balloon).

Most Popular Foley Catheters: Bardia Foley Catheter (14 and 18 Fr.), Mentor-Coloplast Foley 2-Way Silicone-Coated Latex Catheter (24 and 28 Fr.)

Coude Tip Catheters: A coude tip is most commonly used in males; it’s similar to the Intermittent catheters, except it features a slightly bent/curved internal tip that is designed to help the catheter navigate past the prostate or obstructions in the urethral path to the bladder. (Coude tipped catheters may also have a Foley balloon in some cases.)

Most Popular Coude Tip Catheters: Mentor-Coloplast Self-Cath Olive Coude Tip with Guide Stripe, Bard Intermittent Coude Tip Catheter (14 Fr.)

External Catheter – Also known as a “Condom Catheter” or a “Texas catheter”, external catheters are male-specific devices shaped like a condom and either strap or adhere to the male penis. They have a tube outlet on the tip that allows for the attachment of tubing for diversion into a leg bag or similar urine collection device. These are typically used for men experiencing incontinence, such as overflow incontinence. And, being external devices, the risk of urinary tract infection is significantly reduced.

Most Popular External Catheters: Mentor Coloplast Freedom Cath Self-Adhering Male Catheter, Mentor Coloplast Clear Advantage, Mentor Coloplast Active Cath, Coloplast Conveen Security +, Rochester Wide Band Male Catheter, Rochester Ultraflex Male External Catheter

Travel Catheters – There are single-use, disposable catheter options designed for both men and women that come in individual, sterile packages to make cathing more portable and accessible for active individuals. There are options for men, both external and internal, to help make cathing more portable. For women, likely the most portable, useful catheter right now is the Coloplast Speedicath Compact, which is a sterile, pre-lubed and single-use catheter that is similar in size and shape to a lipstick container. Travel options are usually packaged not only for portability but to be more discreet.

Most Popular Travel Catheters: Speedicath Compact Female Intermittent Catheter, Speedicath Male Intermittent Catheter, Coloplast Conveen security+ Male External (specifically for male incontinence; requires a leg bag or attachment device)