Male External Catheters: A Quick Guide

External catheters are the least invasive solution to urinary incontinence available to men. Unlike intermittent and Foley catheters, which are inserted into the body to drain the bladder, external catheters are worn like a condom. They collect urine as it drains and send it to a collection bag strapped to the patient’s leg.

They’ve been a tried-and-true option for many decades. Yet, like lots of other products Medical Monks sells, they’ve undergone quite a few redesigns and improvements in recent years. This quick guide should serve as an overview of the varieties and applications of male external catheters.

External Catheters and Incontinence

As we explored in our guide to intermittent catheters, many men rely on internal catheters when suffering from conditions that make bladder drainage difficult or impossible. This is called urinary retention. These caths are inserted into the urethra whenever urination is necessary.

Conversely, some men are able to drain urine but have trouble controlling when it’s released. They are likely good candidates for external catheters.

Urinary incontinence and/or overactive bladder are the symptoms which most often lead men to choose external caths. These conditions disproportionately affect the elderly but can occur in people of any age. They are often a result of dementia or Alszheimers, but can also be caused by a loss of mobility owing to paralysis, stroke or nerve diseases like Parkinson’s.  

External caths may also be used in special situations like alcohol withdrawal, the symptoms of which can sometimes lead a patient to lose control of their bladder function.

Choosing the Right Catheter

Though they all generally have the same sheath-like shape, external caths are available in several different forms and sizes. 

In earlier times, external catheters tended to be slightly stiff, latex condoms held on by a sheath holder at the base. These are still available and are typically referred to as Texas-style catheters. Texas-style caths ten to be very reliable in terms of durability, but can tend to have some issues staying attached, especially for those with more active lifestyles. 

To solve these issues, the more modern condom caths tend to use adhesive to stay attached. There are a range of adhesive strengths available, depending on your needs. Regardless of the adhesive strength, it is important to take great care in removing these devices. They should be rolled up, rather than pulled off, to avoid damage to the skin. Many folks also use skin prepping products prior to cath application. These will form a protective barrier on the skin, helping to avoid irritation. 


Finding the correct fit is very important. If the catheter is too small, bodily harm can be caused by extended wear. Too loose and it may not drain properly, causing urine to pool inside the catheter, potentially leading to skin irritation after prolonged contact. 

Nearly all condom catheter sizes are measured in diameter, and many are available in multiple lengths. Printable sizing charts are available online to assist in measuring the area. However, it is always highly preferable to be measured by a medical professional to be sure you get the right fit.

With all the Options Available Today…

…cathing does not have to be a hassle. Please continue to explore Medical Monks for more external caths and accessories. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us via phone or chat. The Monks are always here to help. 

Related Videos

More Blogs

Top Urology Products