How do I find my urethra to insert an intermittent catheter?
The urethra is a tube that connects to the urinary bladder for the removal of urine from the body.
The urethral opening is located at the tip of the penis and is easy to find. Since the male urethra is significantly longer than the female urethra, a male length catheter is naturally longer. Male length catheters tend to be between 12-16 inches to ensure it is long enough to reach the bottom of the bladder and provide complete emptying.
Locating the urethra can be a little more difficult, as its more hidden away. For women, the urethral opening is a small opening located below the clitoris and above the vagina. Female catheter users can use a standing mirror or hand-held mirror to first help locate the urethra before inserting the intermittent catheter. It is important that you do not poke around until you find your urethral opening as this could introduce bacteria into the urethra, risking urinary tract infection.
On average the female urethra is approximately only 4cm, resulting in females having much shorter intermittent catheter lengths, being between 6-8 inches. Due to such a short urethra, it is important to note females are at a much higher risk of developing urinary tract infections (UTIs).
If you feel that your catheter is too small or too big, speak with your doctor. You and your healthcare professional can determine together what size and length catheter may best suit your individual needs. Your doctor should take into consideration your preferences as well as your particular anatomy.