Treatment Overview

Catheters used to manage urinary incontinence include:

  • Standard catheter. This is a thin,
    flexible, hollow tube that is inserted through the
    urethra into the bladder and allows the urine to drain
    out. The standard catheter is used for
    intermittent self-catheterization.
  • Indwelling Foley catheter. This type of catheter, which
    remains in place continuously, has a balloon on the end that is inflated with
    sterile water after the end is inside the bladder. The inflated balloon
    prevents the catheter from slipping out.
    Urinary tract infections are more likely to occur with
    long-term use of an
    indwelling catheter than with intermittent self-catheterization. To learn more, see the topic
    Care for an Indwelling Urinary Catheter.
  • Condom catheter or Texas catheter. This is a special condom that fits over the penis and is
    attached to a tube that collects urine.
    Condom catheters are only for short-term use, because long-term use increases
    the risk of
    urinary tract infections, damage to the penis from
    friction with the condom, and urethral blockage.

What To Expect After Treatment

Catheterization may cause some discomfort during the procedure. A
condom or Texas catheter does not cause much discomfort, because it is not
inserted into the urethra, but indwelling catheters may cause some discomfort
while in place.

Why It Is Done

Catheters can be used to treat severe incontinence that cannot be
managed with medicines or surgery.

How Well It Works

Catheters do not cure incontinence but rather allow you or a
caregiver to manage incontinence.

These devices are effective. But some men find catheters
uncomfortable or painful and stop using them.


Using a catheter increases your risk for:

What To Think About

The use of catheters can be under your control and can be designed
to fit into your lifestyle.

Complete the special treatment information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this treatment.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD – Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Elizabeth T. Russo, MD – Internal Medicine

Current as ofMay 5, 2017