An intermittent catheter is a type of urinary catheter designed to help patients empty their bladder. Unlike long-term catheters, they are designed to be used once and then discarded.

Intermittent catheters consist of a thin, flexible tube that is inserted into the bladder through the urethra and are often used by patients with urinary incontinence, spinal cord injuries, prostate enlargement, or after certain surgeries.

Types of Intermittent Catheters

Intermittent catheters come in a variety of types, materials, and sizes. They can be made from various materials such as vinyl, rubber, and latex, each offering a different level of flexibility for personal comfort. They are also available in various lengths to meet your needs; females typically use shorter catheters, while men and those in wheelchairs prefer a longer length.

The most common types of intermittent catheters include:

Straight Tip.

A straight tip catheter is the most common type of intermittent catheter. It is the same diameter for the entire length of the catheter and does not have an angled tip, making it completely straight from one end to the other. They often have eyelets or holes at the end for directing urine into the proper receptacle.

Coude Tip.

A coude tip catheter has a curved tip that helps it maneuver around obstructions or blockages in the urethra. It’s most commonly used by men with enlarged prostates, though anyone with urethral restrictions can use a coude catheter.

There are three basic coude tips: tapered, the most common coude tip; olive, a larger tip with a round bulb at the end; and tiemann tips, which are long and thin. Your doctor can help you decide which coude tip is best for your needs and comfort.

Hydrophilic Catheter.

Hydrophilic catheters have a lubricated coating that becomes very slippery when exposed to water or saline. This reduces friction and makes insertion easier, making them a good choice for those who experience pain or discomfort during catheterization.

Some hydrophilic catheters come with a separate saline or water packet used to wet the catheter before use. Others come ready-to-use without the need for additional supplies. This is a great solution for those who want to stay active, but don’t want to carry a bag full of supplies.

Closed System Catheter.

Also known as a “touchless” catheter, a closed system catheter is a pre-lubricated catheter contained within its own collection bag. This eliminates the need to touch the catheter before insertion and allows your urine to drain directly into the bag rather than a toilet.

Because they are easier to use and more sanitary than traditional catheters, closed systems are ideal for patients in wheelchairs and those with frequent UTIs. They also typically include supplies like gloves, additional lubricant, and antiseptic wipes.