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Straight and Coudé Catheters

straight vs coude catheter

One step in finding the right catheter for you is deciding between straight and coudé catheters. Depending on your body, one may work better for you than the other. It’s important to note that the tip is the only difference between the two, which is either straight or curved (coudé) on the very end. Everything else about the catheter is the same.

What is Catheterization?

Urethral catheterization is performed with a catheter and is a common medical procedure that directly drains the urinary bladder through the urethra. The urethra is the tubular structure that opens to the outside of the body. In males, the urethra is longer (8 inches) than in females (2 inches). There is a direct path to the bladder for the female compared to the curves in the male urethra which has four distinct sections.

For a multitude of reasons, catheters can sometimes diagnose or treat urinary tract abnormalities. To detect or relieve urinary retention, instill a medication, and irrigation for blood clots or bloody urine. Users can insert catheters to temporarily provide immediate relief of retained urine or left in place for surgery, postoperatively. Or due to chronic retention. Elderly and ill people require catheters most commonly. 

Reasons for urinary catheterization are numerous and include the need to collect an uncontaminated specimen of urine, monitor the volume of urine produced, visualizing the bladder and urinary tract, chronic obstruction, fluid around the kidneys, neurologic damage to the bladder that prevents emptying, and for bedridden patients to promote hygiene.

There are three main types of catheters which are each available in straight and coudé tips.

What Are Straight Catheters?

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CompactCath straight


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A straight catheter, as its name implies, is linear or straight throughout its length and can be flexible or rigid. The length varies depending on the gender that is using it. A catheter is made of latex, silastic (pure silicone or silicone-coated, silver alloy, PVC, vinyl, or antibiotic-impregnated. Catheters are sometimes coated with a substance, making them slippery upon insertion, while others are pre-lubricated with numbing medication. 

Pros of Straight Catheters

  • Less manipulation during insertions
  • Used for males and females
  • Easy to insert
  • Promotes independence
  • Safe
  • Inexpensive

Cons of Straight Catheters

  • May increase the risk of trauma
  • Can cause bladder infections
  • Must be kept clean
  • May cause pain if no numbing medication (lidocaine gel)
  • Might not be discrete or easy to carry around

How to Insert a Straight Catheter


  • Standing or sitting on the toilet, put on sterile gloves or wash hands with soap and water.
  • Clean the outside of the penis and gently swab the inner part of the penis.
  • Apply topical anesthesia (lidocaine 2%) to the tip of the penis and inside the urethra. Wait 2-3 minutes.
  • To place the catheter, hold the penis firmly with the non-dominant hand and keep it extended, gently insert the tip of the catheter into the penis and advance slowly until urine passes out the other end.
  • Once the stream of urine stops, remove the catheter and dispose of it. If it is reusable, wash with warm soapy water, rinse and allow to air dry.


  • To insert a catheter, females need to have a self-standing or folding mirror that can be propped for adequate visualization.
  • Open the package after washing your hands.
  • Put water-based lubricant on the tip and shaft of the catheter.
  • Clean the labial/ urethral opening with cleansing wipes from front to back.
  • Rewash hands and do not touch the first 3-4 inches of the catheter.
  • While sitting on the toilet, use the mirror to locate the urethral opening.
  • With your non-dominant hand, spread your labia and insert the tip of the catheter into the urethra and advance until urine comes out the other end, then advance the catheter one more inch while urine flows.

What Are Coudé Catheters

coude catheters
CompactCath Coudé


Coudé means ‘elbow’ in French and so a coudé catheter has a curved tip so that it can be inserted more easily for those who may have variations in their anatomy such as strictures, scarring, narrow urethra, or an enlarged prostate. Men and children are the primary users of coudé catheters, although many people may need to use the curved tips. Coude tips are a tapered, rounder shape.

Pros of Coudé Catheters

  • Useful with urethras that are curved such as with men and children
  • Can navigate enlarged prostates or strictures
  • Reduces friction around an enlarged prostate
  • Less irritation and discomfort

Cons of Coudé Catheters

  • Must keep tip upward during insertion
  • Need to go slower
  • Have to be able to twist the catheter into the right position around strictures or the prostate
  • Might be more painful
  • May need more lubrication

How to Insert a Coudé Catheter


The same process as straight catheters except keep tip pointed upwards for the initial insertion and go slowly.


The same process as straight catheters except keep the curved tip pointed upward during insertion.

CompactCath Offers Straight and Coudé Catheters!

For those looking to self-cath, CompactCath offers discreet, easy-to-use, intermittent-catheters that come in both straight and coudé tips! CompactCath is the only 16” catheter that comes pre-lubricated, fits in the palm of your hand, and is 100% non-touch! (Not sure which tip is right for you? Give us a call and one of our representatives will talk you through straight vs. coudé catheters, and help you find the best type for you).

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