Incontinence can be different in men and women and the urological differences can lead to different types of catheters for men and women. Symptoms, treatment and catheterization are, therefore, different in both men and women. While the fundamental principals on which urinary catheters work are the same for both men and women, there are subtle differences in the design and usage. Here, we’ll be looking at these differences in catheters for men and women.
The usage of catheters for men and women can be quite different from each other. There are basic differences in the urethral passage and the way the catheter operates. Ideally, any intermittent catheter is administered into into a patient’s bladder. Hence, the anatomy, the design and the size of the catheter might be specific to the patient’s gender and physical conditions. A typical catheter designed for men is administered through the penis while catheters made for women are generally inserted directly into the bladder. Another complication with urinary catheters for women is that the bladder position in women might change due to various reasons like pregnancy and birth control. As a rule of the thumb, women should always consult a physician before starting with catheterization.
When it comes to intermittent catheters, there is hardly any difference between catheters for men and women. The most striking difference between intermittent catheters for men and women is the length of the catheter. While a male intermittent catheter can run up to 16 inches in length, a female catheter is significantly shorter in length. A typical female catheter can measure up to 8 inches in length. This difference in the length of the catheters arises due to the anatomy and bladder position of men and women. While the path to the bladder from the urethra is long in men, it is shorter in women and hence, the difference in lengths of the catheters.
Foley catheters might also be tweaked differently for men and women. Foley catheters are indwelling catheters and are designed to stay inside the patient for a longer time than intermittent catheters. Like intermittent catheters, Foley catheters for men and women vary in the length and the size of the balloon. The balloon size is dependent on the bladder size and positioning. Thus the balloon size might be smaller for women as compared to men.
External and Coude tip catheters are specific to male patients. While external catheters can be worn like a condom (the reason why they cannot be used by females), Coude tip catheters have a slightly bent tip and are indwelling catheters. The bent tip is designed such that it is easy for the catheter to navigate through the urethra into the bladder. While some Coude tip catheters have been re-designed to suit women, most of these are specific to male anatomy. Efforts are being made by many companies to manufacture external catheters for women, but the efforts have largely gone in vain. In essence, therefore, the more traditional catheters like Foley catheters and intermittent catheters work almost the same way for both men and women with slight structural variations. On the other hand, more innovative designs have been rolled out primarily for men.
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Tags: balloon size, catheter, catheters, catheters for men, coude tip, female catheter, indwelling catheters, intermittent catheters, urinary catheters.