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Everything You Need to Know About Straight Catheters

Urinary catheters are used to drain urine from the bladder and have two ends, a funnel end and an end with the insertion tip. The tip is located at the end of the catheter that has eyelets, where urine flows from the bladder and down the length of the catheter.

Catheters are designed with a variety of different features that appeal to users in different ways, one varying feature being the type of tip, which can either be straight or curved.

What is a straight-tip catheter?

straight tip catheter                    coude tip catheter     

Straight tip catheter                            Coude tip catheter

 

A straight catheter is a type of catheter with a straight tip. In contrast, a coude catheter has a slight bend at the tip which is used to navigate past obstructions or other spaces that a straight catheter may have trouble with. Most users of urinary catheters find straight tip catheters work for them, and therefore these are the most common type of urinary catheter tips available. 

For more information on coude catheters, check out our blog post here.

Types of straight catheters

The term “straight catheter” (not to be confused with straight tip catheter!) most commonly refers to intermittent catheters. Intermittent catheters are typically single-use catheters that are inserted and removed by the user or caretaker several times a day to drain urine from the body. They are made in a variety of different styles with straight and coude tips, vary in the size, length, type of lubrication, packaging, and more.

For those seeking more freedom and independence while using urinary catheters, intermittent catheters are a great option because they allow you to remain free of an attached drainage bag — something that’s necessary for indwelling catheters. Another common reason for choosing intermittent catheters over indwelling catheters is the reduced risk of bothersome urinary tract infections (UTIs). This is because intermittent catheters significantly reduce the time that a foreign object (catheter) is left inside of the body and breeds bacteria in the urinary tract.

Foley catheters, or indwelling catheters, are also available with straight tips. These catheters either drain into an attached collection bag or are fitted with a valve that can be opened and closed when needed. Foley catheters are usually inserted by a medical professional, after which they can be left in the body for up to one month. Foley catheters are ideal for those who have difficulty with intermittent catheters or find self-catheterization too much of a hassle. 

Pros

Straight catheters are the standard type of urinary catheter and work for most individuals. If you are able to comfortably catheterize with a straight catheter, there is no need to change the tip of your catheter. Coude catheters are only recommended as an alternative for those who find straight catheters difficult or painful to insert.

Benefits of using a straight tip catheter, compared to a coude tip catheter:

  • Faster insertion
  • While coude tip catheters must always be positioned with the curve going up, straight tip catheters are the same all the way around, so you don’t have to worry about inserting them incorrectly
  • Require less dexterity than coude tip catheters
  • May require less lubrication

Cons

While women may also find that straight catheters do not work for them, men and boys are more likely to experience the factors listed below and be prescribed coude catheters as an alternative.

Coude catheters may be prescribed instead of straight catheters if you experience the following:

  • Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH): also known as an enlarged prostate, is common in men as they age
  • Urethral Stricture Disease
  • Urethral strictures, blockages, or trauma
  • Scarring from prostate surgery
  • Radiation in the pelvic area from cancer treatment
  • False passages in the urethra or stoma
  • Females with an atrophic vagina

These factors all make it harder for straight catheters to be inserted. Alternatively, there are different types of coude tip catheters that are designed to address different obstacles, making catheterization much easier and comfortable for some.

Note: A false passage occurs when the catheter traumatically creates a false opening in the urethra that the catheter wrongly passes through. If the catheter is repeatedly inserted into a false passage, the individual may experience discomfort, trauma, and/or urethral strictures.

How to use an intermittent straight catheter

While there is a slight learning curve to using intermittent catheters, with practice and instruction from your doctor you’ll be able to safely and confidently catheterize on your own.

You can find steps on intermittent catheterization below, although you should consult your doctor or caretaker before self-catheterizing to prevent injury. 

For men:

1. Have your catheter supplies ready.

    Recommended supplies:
      • Catheter
      • Lubricant
      • Alcohol-free antiseptic wipe
      • Collection bag (if you use one)
      • Gloves (optional)

      2. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap, then dry completely. If soap and water are unavailable, use an antibacterial hand sanitizer. After doing so, you may also choose to wear gloves for extra precaution.

      3. Remove your catheter from its packaging and apply additional lubricants if you use any.

      4. Hold your penis and retract the foreskin if uncircumcised, then clean the tip of the penis by gently wiping the area with an alcohol-free antiseptic wipe.

      5. Situate yourself comfortably and hold your penis at a 45-degree angle away from your body.

      6. Slowly insert the catheter into your urethra. If at any time you feel pain or resistance, take a deep breath, relax, and try again while exhaling. Start over if necessary.

      7. Once urine begins to flow, insert the catheter about 2.5 inches further. Then you can lower your penis to allow urine to flow naturally.

      8. After urine stops flowing, shift your body a few times to make sure all urine has been emptied, then slowly remove your catheter. It is common for more urine to drain as you remove the catheter.

      9. Make sure you replace the foreskin over the penis if you are circumcised.

      10. Dispose of your catheter and any additional used supplies. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap.

      For women:

      1. Have your catheter supplies ready.

      Recommended supplies:

        • Catheter
        • Lubricant
        • Alcohol-free antiseptic wipe
        • Collection bag (if you use one)
        • Gloves (optional)
        • Handheld mirror (optional)

        2. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap, then dry completely. If soap and water are unavailable, use an antibacterial hand sanitizer. After doing so, you may also choose to wear gloves for extra precaution.

        3. Remove your catheter from its packaging and apply additional lubricants if you use any.

        4. Clean the urethra by separating the labia and gently wiping it with an alcohol-free antiseptic wipe.

        5. Situate yourself comfortably with your thighs spread apart. Many women find it helpful to squat slightly or to place one foot on a raised surface. Others will sit.

        6. Slowly insert the catheter into your urethra. If at any time you feel pain or resistance, take a deep breath, relax, and try again as you exhale. Start over if necessary.

        7. Once urine begins to flow, insert the catheter about one inch further.

        8. After urine stops flowing, shift your body a few times to make sure all urine has been emptied, then slowly remove your catheter.  More urine may drain as you remove the catheter.

        9. Dispose of your catheter and any additional used supplies.

        10. Wash your hands again with warm water and soap.

        Finding the best straight tip catheter for you

        Straight tip catheters come in a variety of lengths, sizes, lubricants, and packages to make self-catheterization easier for you. Talk to your doctor to see if straight catheters can help you manage your incontinence.

        If you’re interested in trying alternatives to the straight catheter you’re currently using, Better Health carries an extensive selection of catheters to suit a wide variety of needs.  Take a look at our catheter offerings or take our product selection quiz to get personalized recommendations just for you.

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