When purchasing catheters, many prefer certain materials over others. Benjamin Franklin was the person who invented the first flexible catheter in 1752 for his brother, who had bladder stones. In that era, patients with bladder stones had to place a rigid and hard metal tube into the bladder. The process was not only invasive but also excruciating. Though Benjamin worked with metal to hinge its segments and create a durable and flexible tube, it is no longer the best material people choose for the catheter.

Instead, soft materials such as silicon and polyvinyl chloride are the most sought-after materials people want for catheter production. Look at the different catheter materials below to learn about their features and benefits.

The Most Common Catheter Materials: 

1. Vinyl Catheters: PVC is an artificially made polymeric polymer. Because PVC catheters are partially transparent, patients and their healthcare professionals may see the color of the urine. Although PVC is relatively flexible to make insertion easy, it is also stiff. Remember that the flexibility of vinyl catheters depends on the formulation and brand you choose. 

People with latex allergies prefer PVC materials since they are typically (but not always) devoid of latex. Here are some of the primary features of vinyl catheters:

  • Flexible and firm
  • It comes with a unique color-coded funnel to find French size
  • It has transparent material to see the output
  • Has catheter range without a funnel
  • Has no latex

2. Red Rubber Latex Catheters: Due to red rubber latex’s thermo-sensitivity, or ability to heat up to the surrounding temperature and increase flexibility, latex is the stretchiest compared to other materials.

Also, as latex is less expensive than silicon, research from the Family Physician organization recommended long-term catheterization. However, those with latex allergies shouldn’t use red rubber latex catheters. While some people like the flexibility of this catheter material, others find it challenging to insert.

Some standard features of a red rubber latex catheter include:

  • Depending on the manufacturer, it could be red, brown, or orange
  • It is thick from the insertion point to the funnel end
  • Not color-coded to distinguish French size
  • It is not suitable for people with latex sensitivities or allergies

3. Silicone Catheters: Did you know to avoid PVC due to its harmful compounds during manufacture, usage, and disposal? 

Silicone is quickly replacing PVC as the preferred material. Because silicone is transparent, patients and medical professionals may see the urine. It is flexible, falling between latex and PVC. 

Since silicone is entirely latex-free, it is also a better option for people who are allergic to latex. Additionally smooth, some manufacturers even have an antimicrobial coating added to the material. The primary features of silicone are:

  • Allows you to view urine output
  • Depending on your choice, it can be DEHP-free and Latex-free
  • It has good flexibility compared to rubber, latex, and vinyl
  • Smooth and soft material 

4. DEHP-Free Catheters: Di-(2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate, also known as DEHP, is a synthetic chemical plasticizer frequently a part of vinyl or plastic products. DEHP has a negligible fragrance and no color. Its function is to aid in softer, more flexible plastic processing.

Some recent studies link DEHP exposure to respiratory disorders, cancer, testosterone and sperm count decline, and other problems like congenital disabilities. Exposure can occur through skin contact, inhalation, or ingestion due to the widespread usage of phthalates in everyday products (drinking or eating).

That is why medical professionals emphasize using DEHP-Free catheters for draining urine. The standard features of DEHP-Free catheters include:

  • Use plastic or vinyl products
  • It doesn’t contain di-(2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate

Which Catheter Material is Best? 

Ultimately, there needs to be a specific catheter material or design that works for everyone. Every individual has unique preferences, anatomy, and needs. How can you choose which catheter material is best for you? Consider the materials and characteristics indicated above as your best option. Consult your prescribing healthcare professional to find the appropriate type and material for your specific needs and condition. You and your doctor can decide which option is in terms of your comfort and catheter needs.

Choosing the best catheter material requires you to learn the features of different materials available and their pros and cons. Regardless of the material you choose, make sure you buy from credible and renowned catheter suppliers from Active Life Medical Products.

Where Can I Receive Catheters Covered by Medicaid and


You need a trusted catheter supplier when you require catheter supplies. Active Life Medical Products makes ordering the entire catheter supply process easy. Our Product Specialists can help you get your prescribed catheter covered through most insurances. Everything will be delivered directly to your front door.

Call Active Life Medical Products at (800) 319-2336 to place your order.

Popular Catheters Covered by Medicaid and Medicare: