Complete Guide To Catheter Sizes, Lengths, and Types


Learning about catheters can be an overwhelming experience. There are many different aspects to consider when looking for the right catheter to fit your needs. Catheters come in different sizes, lengths, and types, and it can be a daunting task to research all the options available in the market. We are going to discuss all the different variants and help you determine the right size of an intermittent catheter for your personal use.

What are urinary catheters?

Urinary catheters are thin, hollow tubes inserted to the urethra to empty the bladder when the body is unable to do it on its own. This prevents a buildup of urine in the kidneys, which can lead up to permanent damage from kidney failure.

Urinary catheters are the perfect solution for individuals who can’t empty their bladder on their own due to surgical procedures, urinary incontinence or other medical reasons.

Importance of getting the right size

All internal urinary catheters are sized by a universal gauge system, well-known as the French size. French size is calculated by multiplying the diameter of the tube by 3. For example, if the diameter length is 4mm, the French size will be 12. 

Catheter french sizes are universally color-coded and are easy to identify by looking at your catheter funnel. These are some of the most common adult catheter sizes and colors:

  • Size 10 FR: Black
  • Size 12 FR: White
  • Size 14 FR: Green
  • Size 16 FR: Orange
  • Size 18 FR: Red

What french size to choose from? Adult men and women

Your doctor will help you determine which french size is right for you. It is very important to use the size that fits your body, as there are several issues that can occur if you don’t. If you choose a catheter size that is too small, it will take longer to fully empty the bladder. Smaller sizes can also cause leaks during the process. If you choose a catheter size that is too big, you may experience painful insertion, and are at risk of developing mucosal irritation. 


Catheter length for men and women

The correct length of a catheter to fit your personal needs will be determined by a number of factors. Age, weight and sex are all factors to consider. For individuals with a heavier body weight or a larger build, it is recommended to purchase a longer catheter. Men also typically need longer catheter tubes than women. Typical catheter lengths are 10’’ for children, 6-8’’ for females, and 16’’ for males. 

Coudé catheter vs straight catheter

Did you know there are two main types of catheters? There’s a slight variance between those two. A straight catheter has a straight tip and is the standard catheter in the market. 

A coudé catheter has a curved tip which makes the insertion easier for people who have bumps along the urethra or at the entrance of the bladder. These bumps act as “speed bumps” , making it difficult for the catheter to pass through. The curved tip helps for a smooth pass.

When inserting a coudé catheter, remember that you need to make sure the tip points up.

Let us help you

If you have more questions regarding catheters, please give us a call @ (204) 589-8955 or send us an email @ [email protected]. Our team of specialists will assist you find the right catheter for your specific needs.

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