What Are Urinary Female Catheters?

When patients have difficulty emptying their bladder, urinary and female catheters can help. Catheters are hollow and flexible tubes that connect the bladder to a drainage bag or an opening for disposal into a receptacle or toilet. Catheters can be comprised of rubber, plastic, or silicone and come in various sizes to accommodate different anatomies and physical conditions.

Urinary catheters perform such an essential function that kidney and bladder issues can be severe without them. In fact, for those having trouble draining their bladders naturally, not using an assisting medical device like a urinary or female catheter can lead to kidney damage, kidney failure, or permanent bladder damage.

Why Are Women Prescribed Urinary Catheters?

Female catheters are prescribed for many different underlying medical reasons, but they are generally always used to resolve one of three of the following diagnoses:

  • Urinary Incontinence
  • Urinary Retention
  • Uncontrolled Urination

Some of the most common underlying factors for the diagnoses mentioned above are:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Bladder Nerve Injuries
  • Blood Clots In Urine
  • Certain Medications
  • Dementia
  • Kidney Stones
  • Labor
  • Pregnancy
  • Spina Bifida
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Surgeries, Including Genital And Hip Surgeries

While the medical conditions listed above are some of the most commonly reported, there are many other factors and conditions determined by physicians to be the cause of catheter placement and usage.

The Three Types Of Female Catheters:

While various catheter types are used for women, three main types of female catheters are commonly prescribed.

  • Closed System Female Catheters: Often considered the most convenient of the female catheters because they come conveniently pre-lubricated and are already connected to a drainage bag. The closed system option can benefit catheter users who are always on the go. Plus, with everything already ready to go, pre-lubricated, and minimal urethra insertion requirements, the closed system offers minimal touching and significantly reduced bacterial infection.
  • Hydrophilic Female Catheters: Preferred by many women because they come pre-coated with a special lubricant coating that, when activated with water, coats the catheter with lubricant for easy and comfortable insertion. Many prescribing physicians, caregivers, and patients prefer hydrophilic female catheters because they are simple to use, require less hand contact, and are, therefore, more sanitary. In the hydrophilic catheter category, some catheters come with their sterile water packet for activation, and some automatically activate as soon as the package is opened.
  • Straight Female Catheters: Referred to as intermittent catheters, they are comprised of long thin tubing and discarded after use. This catheter type is prevalent and considered the original catheter design. These catheters are not pre-lubricated and must be manually lubricated before insertion.

Female Catheter Sizing: 

When it comes to female catheters, there are generally two sizes that must be considered; the catheter length and the catheter tubing diameters, or French sizes. Your physician or urologist will help you determine the correct sizing for you.

Catheter lengths for women generally stay around six inches, but they can also go as low as two inches. Female catheter lengths are much shorter because female urethras are much shorter than male urethras.

Catheter tubing or French sizes are a little more complicated, however. The length of the catheter tubing being used is essential because too long or too short can cause the bladder to drain too slowly or too quickly, which can cause further medical issues or damage. Physicians and medical providers will use a color-coded French sizing system to determine and indicate the right size for your catheter tubing. 

Where Can I Get Catheter Supplies Covered by Medicaid and


You need a trusted catheter product 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 and discreetly to your front door.

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

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