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Your urinary system prevents waste and toxins from building up in your blood. It also maintains your body’s water balance, helps regulate your blood pressure, maintains Vitamin D production for health, strong bones, and helps your body make red blood cells.

There are several parts within your urinary system: two kidneys, two ureters, the bladder, and the urethra.

Your kidneys are high in your abdominal cavity, just below your rib cage and sit on either side of your spine. They work continuously to filter the blood passing through them removing waste and excess fluid, returning filtered blood back to the body and passing waste through urine to the bladder.

You have two ureters that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. These are narrow tubes with muscular walls that tighten and relax to transport urine to your bladder. Your ureters let small amounts of urine enter your bladder every 10 to 15 seconds.

Your bladder is in your lower abdomen and stores your urine. Muscles in the bladder stay relaxed so it can expand as it fills with urine, while other muscles – the internal and external sphincter muscles, stay closed to keep the urine in the bladder. As your bladder fills it sends signals to your brain that you need to urinate, your brain then tells the sphincter muscles to relax and the bladder wall to tighten so urine can be squeezed through the urethra and out of your bladder.

The urethra is the last part of the urinary system. It’s a tube at the bottom of the bladder that lets urine leave the body.

A loss of bladder control or urine leakage is referred to as incontinence and can occur at any age and for a range of reasons. It can also be a temporary or a permanent condition. A common strategy to mange incontinence is the use of a catheter – a plastic tube that’s inserted into the bladder, via the urethral opening to drain urine when the bladder cannot empty on its own.

The urethral opening is easy to find for men and sits at the tip of the penis. The female urethral opening can be a little more difficult to locate as it’s hidden away below the clitoris and above the vagina. Men have a much longer urinary tract than women so male catheters are around 30 – 40cm. Women have a much shorter urinary tract – around 4cm, so typically require a shorter catheter of 15 – 20cm to reach the bladder.

There are many different catheters available to you so it’s important to try several products to find the right catheter for you and your lifestyle.

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