Urinary catheter choices for women

A female urinary catheter is a thin, flexible, plastic tube used to drain urine from the bladder. It comes in a variety of sizes, styles and materials. Typically, women and children use shorter-length catheters, while men tend to use longer-length ones. The two most common types of female catheters are intermittent and indwelling.


Intermittent catheters

Intermittent catheters are commonly used when you are capable of inserting the catheter yourself. These catheters are used to empty your bladder at certain times throughout the day, as directed by your doctor. A health care professional will teach you how to self-catheterize so you can use the catheters at home or away from home. Note: There is a lower incidence of urinary tract infections (UTI) with the use of intermittent catheters, when compared to indwelling catheters.  


Indwelling catheters

Indwelling (Foley) catheters are commonly used when you are not capable of inserting the catheter yourself. This type of catheter drains urine from the bladder into a drainage collection bag, which can be attached to either the leg or to the bed. It is a long-term catheter that is usually changed once a month by a health care professional.

Note: While these are the most common types of catheters, there are other types that your health care provider may recommend based on your individual needs.


Female urethral inserts

Female urethral inserts are used to prevent stress incontinence, so they may provide women with an alternative method to manage urinary leakage. A female urethral insert gently glides into the urethra and creates a soft seal at the bladder neck. It conforms to a woman’s unique shape to help prevent urine leakage without surgery. Your doctor will need to fit you for this device and explain how to put it in and remove it.  


Related articles:
Common questions and answers about urinary catheters
Clean intermittent self-catheterization for women
Catheters and health care coverage