7 Things You Should
Know about Male
Intermittent Catheters

Published 2019/11/27

If you are a man new to using intermittent catheters, here are 7 things you should know about self-catheterization. This article will cover the reasons for self-catheterization, the risk of catheter-associated UTI, having privacy and control, what common sizes of catheters, straight vs coude tip, catheter stiffness, and insurance coverage. 

male use catheter

1. Reasons for Self-catheterization

One of the most common reasons for intermittent self-catheterization specifically among men is BPH, benign prostatic hyperplasia. The prostate of a man naturally enlarges over the course of his lifetime, and in middle-age or old-age, the prostate can enlarge enough to press into the urethral wall, obstructing the flow of urine. Thus, many men may experience difficulty urinating, having a weak stream, incomplete voiding, and urinary retention.


Prostatitis is another common reason for self-catheterization specific to men. It refers to the swelling and information of the prostate gland. If prostatitis is found to be caused by infections, it is treatable with antibiotics, but oftentimes the cause is unknown, making it untreatable.


However, both prostatitis and BPH can be managed with intermittent catheters, which are soft hollow tubes inserted into the bladder through urethra several times a day to drain urine. 


There are other reasons for self-catheterization that are not exclusive to men, but applies to a lot of men includes neurogenic bladder and urinary diversion surgery.


Neurogenic bladder is caused by damage to the nerves, which leads to the loss of bladder control in either retraining or expelling urine. Neurogenic bladder can be caused by spinal cord injuries (SCI), diabetes, stroke, and birth defects.


Many people catheterize long-term after a urinary diversion surgery, which creates a new lower urinary tract system that bypasses the bladder, letting urine drain out of a surgically created hole in the belly. People with a surgically-made continent catheterizable urine pouch such as an Indiana pouch would need to use intermittent catheters.

2. Risk of Catheter-associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI)

Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) are frequently caused by the insertion of a bacteria-contaminated catheter. Intermittent catheters are under strict regulations and are always produced and packaged to be sterile. However, when the user handles the catheter, they may contaminate it with bacteria on their hands, skin, clothes, or surrounding environment.


To prevent CAUTI, always wash your hands with warm water and soap before using a catheter. To further minimize your risk, use a non-touch catheter that doesn’t require you to touch the catheter tube in order to insert it. CompactCath produces catheters that are non-touch and pre-lubricated with anti-bacterial silicone oil.

3. Privacy and Control

When choosing intermittent catheters, it’s important to think about how much privacy and control they can afford you.


Male intermittent catheters are usually 16-inch long and packaged with clear plastic, so they’re bulky and highly recognizable. People may spend a lot of mental energy planning their bathroom trip schedule throughout the day and worrying about hiding their catheters, energy that can be better spent elsewhere. Therefore, it is good to have discreet and compact catheters with you that fit seamlessly in your day. 

4. What catheter size do most male catheter users use?

The average man would use catheters ranging from 14 to 16 french. The most commonly used catheter size for men is 14 french.


The diameter of the catheter tube is measured on the french scale. One french unit refers to .33mm in catheter diameter. 

Most people can go a size up and down without a problem. If your catheter is truly too small, you would notice urine leaking out at the tip of your penis, around the catheter instead of through the catheter, creating a mess. 


If your catheter is too big, it may be painful and difficult to insert it. In extreme cases, it may even lead to friction-caused trauma, at which point you may even see blood in your urine. Keep in mind that if you experience the above problems, it’s highly likely that they’re due to other reasons such as insufficient lubrication, incorrect insertion technique, use of force, or stiff catheter. 


If you think your catheter size is wrong, you should talk to your doctor about what you’ve noticed and ask if they’ll prescribe you a different size. 


Otherwise, you can also contact your catheter distributor directly to request a different size. It’s better for you to talk to your healthcare provider first to see if the problems you’ve noticed are truly due to catheter size.

5. Catheter Stiffness

Each brand and type of catheter may differ in stiffness depending on what material it is made of. Temperature may also affect the stiffness of catheters—coldness makes them stiff and heat makes them warm. 


Stiffer catheters are easier to insert while softer catheters are more comfortable to insert. Decide on what’s right for yourself by trying different catheters. 

6. Coudé Catheter vs Straight Catheter

The standard catheter has a straight tip and a coudé catheter has a curved tip. 

A coudé catheter is commonly used for people with urethral strictures (scarring), false passages, or enlarged prostate.


If you have problems with inserting straight catheters, talk to your doctor about whether or not coudé catheters are right for you.

7. Insurance Coverage for Intermittent Catheters

Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurances cover intermittent catheters, often at no out-of-pocket charge. Insurance is surprisingly easy to figure out because you don’t need to be the one to do it.


To buy catheters, you would either go directly to a catheter company, or a DME (durable medical equipment) distributor, who distribute catheters from many brands and companies. They will help you figure out your insurance policy and file your insurance claim for free. They will inform you if you have any copays too. 

Try CompactCath
to see if it’s right for you!

We have two kinds of super-compact, pocket-sized, touch-free catheters that are pre-lubricated with anti-bacterial silicone oil. The catheters also have easy-to-open packaging and discreet designs that fit seamlessly in your life.


CompactCath is designed by a team of physicians, mechanical engineers, and MBAs from Stanford. It is FDA-cleared in 2014, won two iF product design awards (2016, 2017), was covered by CNN Money,  holds six patents, and won the BioDesign Spectrum grant and the LPCH Pediatric Innovation grant.

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