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Urology/Urethra anatomy


My elderly mother has had a number of urine infections.  Sometimes the ER will use a catheter for a urine sample. One time three different nurses tried to do it, saying it wasn't easy. One told me that not everyone's anatomy is the same and my mother's urethra opening was inside the vaginal opening.  I don't think they were joking.  Is this possible?

Vicki, generally it is much easier to catheterize a female than a male.  Th e female urethra is much shorter being approximately only 1 1/2 inches long.  The opening (meatus) is usually located above the vaginal introitus and just below the clitoris.  Sometimes, the urethra can become narrow such as from scar tissue.   This might make it more difficult to catheterize and may require a dilation of the urethra to accomplish this.  Other conditions may affect the location of the urethra which can pull the meatus to a more inside location.  Such disorders might include bladder prolapse (so called cystourethrocele), uterine fibroids, prior vagina surgery, multiple child births, etc.  None of these conditions is serious and it would be unusual for a urologist (as opposed to an ER nurse) to have difficulty with catheterizing such a person.  

As your grandmother has had multiple urinary tract infections (UTIs), I suggest she see a urologist in consultation as she needs to find the reason for this.  In addition to treating the UTI, there may be things that can be done to prevent UTIs in the future.  Good luck.


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Arthur Goldstein, M.D.


Problems or questions related to the field of urology; ie urinary stone disease, urinary cancers (kidney, bladder, prostate, testis, etc.), urinary infections, etc. I no longer answer questions related to erection problems or male sexual dysfunction.


I am retired from the active practice of urology. My 34 years was totally in the clinical field and involved the entire gamut of genitourinary problems, with special interest in endourology.

American Medical Association, American Urological Association, American College of Surgeons

College degree - BS Medical degree - MD Master of Science - MS

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