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Three Types of Female Catheters

Three Types of Female Catheters

Image showing woman smiling. Female catheters are used by hundreds of thousands of woman across the U.S. each day.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of women use female catheters to assist with bladder functionality. Catheters are an essential medical device relied on every day that offers support for various medical situations and conditions. While catheters are used by men, women, and children alike, there is a wide variety of options to choose from; and often, certain catheter styles tend to work better for certain anatomies and medical conditions.

Below, we’ll take a closer look at female catheters, why women use them, and what differentiates them from other urinary catheters.

What Are Urinary and Female Catheters?

When a patient has difficulty emptying their bladder due, 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 a variety of sizes to accommodate different anatomies and physical conditions.

Urinary catheters perform such an essential function that, without them, kidney and bladder issues can be pretty serious. In fact, for those who are having trouble draining their bladders naturally, not using the 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:
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Spina Bifida
  • Bladder nerve injuries
  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Kidney stones
  • Blood clots in urine
  • Surgeries, including genital and hip surgeries
  • Labor
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain medications

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 cause for catheter placement and usage.

The Three Types of Female Catheters

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

Image showing straight catheter

Straight Female Catheters: Straight catheters, also referred to as intermittent catheters, are comprised of long thin tubing and are used once before discarding. This catheter type is extremely popular and also considered to be the original catheter design. These catheters are not pre-lubricated and must be manually lubricated before insertion.

Image showing a hydrophilic catheter

Hydrophilic Female Catheters: While hydrophilic catheters are very similar to straight catheters, this version of female catheters is becoming increasingly popular due to its ease-of-use. Hydrophilic catheters are preferred by many women because they come pre-coated with a special lubricant coating that, when activated with water, coat 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 and because they require less hand contact and are therefore more sanitary. In the hydrophilic catheter category, there are catheters that come with there own sterile water packet for activation and there are some that automatically activate as soon as the package is opened.

Image showing a closed system catheter

Closed System Female Catheters: Closed system catheters are often considered the most convenient of the female catheters; this is because they come conveniently pre-lubricated and already connected to a drainage bag. For catheter users who are always on-the-go, the closed system option can be extremely helpful. Plus, with everything already ready to go, pre-lubricated, and minimal urethra insertion requirements, the closed system offers minimal touching and therefore greatly reduced bacterial infection possibility.

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Female Catheter Sizing

When it comes to female catheters, there are generally two different 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 right sizing for you.

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

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

Below, you can take a look at a French size chart:

French size chart for catheters for men and women. If you're wondering, "Where can I buy a catheter?" Active Life Medical can help.

Are Female Catheters Covered by Insurance?

Yes, female catheters are covered by most insurances, nationwide! When prescribed by your physician or healthcare provider, and with medical necessity, most female catheter users are able to get their catheter costs covered by their insurance.

Not sure if your insurance will cover your prescribed catheters? Reach out to the experts at Active Life Medical – we can help! Call 1-800-319-2336 today!

How Active Life Medical Can Help

When you choose Active Life Medical for your female catheter needs, you’re guaranteed to be in good hands. Our staff of highly trained and knowledgeable customer service representatives can help you get the female catheters you need straight to your door and covered by your insurance. Our specialized team will work to make the process of getting your catheters delivered to you quickly, affordably, and discreetly. 

When you choose Active Life Medical for your catheter needs, we can help by:

  • Coordinating with your doctors and healthcare providers to gather the necessary paperwork needed for your catheters
  • Finding the right catheter that meets your prescribed medical needs
  • Billing your female catheters directly to your insurance and handling all of the paperwork, from A to Z
  • Expertly answering any questions you have pertaining to catheters or the insurance process
  • Delivering straight to your door quickly and discreetly

Plus, you can get the catheter brand you want and are most comfortable with. Our female catheter selection is on of the biggest available, and work with all of the top brands you know and trust.

Let us help you get started today! Active Life Medical’s team of experts are standing by to help get you the catheters you need at little to no cost to you. Give us a call at 800-319-2336 today.

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