External Catheters

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What Is a Male External Condom Catheter?

External catheters for men are designed to be worn like a condom over the penis. A condom-like tip attaches to a tube and then to a bag to collect urine. External catheters are disposable and made from latex or silicone.

Unlike intermittent or Foley catheters, external catheters don’t pass through the urethra and, instead, are rolled on like a condom. Once it’s in place, the patient’s urine passes through a tube to a drainage bag. As well, this type isn’t for constant wear: patients living with incontinence have the option to put them on only at night to prevent leaks.

Due to this last point, it’s crucial to find the right fit and type to ensure comfortable, convenient usage and to prevent leaks.

External catheters are available:

  • In a range of materials, including latex, silicone and polyurethane. Materials offer varying degrees of flexibility, thickness and transparency. Silicone particularly is ideal for patients with sensitive, irritation-prone skin or who have a latex allergy.
  • In one- or two-piece shapes. A one-piece external condom can be easily rolled on. A two-piece external catheter includes a removable drainage tip that’s attached directly to the tube.
  • In non-adhesive and self-adhesive options. Non-adhesive catheters require the use of a medical adhesive or strips for attachment. The skin must be prepared prior to use. A self-adhesive catheter, meanwhile, has a film on the inside that assists with attachment.

Shop catheters in various sizes with or without adhesives and sheath straps to help keep them in place. Also find tubing, leg bags and other urine collection supplies that work with external catheters for men.

External Catheters vs. Indwelling Catheters

Unlike external catheters, Indwelling or Foley catheters involve a tube inserted through the urethra and into the bladder to drain urine. While health conditions like dementia or bladder stones may be more suitable for indwelling catheters, there are advantages and disadvantages to using both. Note: Self-administering a Foley catheter must be approved by a doctor.

Benefits of External Catheters

Because they are not invasive, male external condom catheters bring a lower risk of urinary tract and other infections than Foley catheters. They also tend to be more comfortable, less restrictive of movement and easier to self-administer at home than indwelling catheters.

Along with these benefits:

  • Patients are less likely to experience urinary tract infections.
  • Are ideal for patients living with incontinence, an overactive bladder (OAB) and mobility issues.
  • Accommodate patients with bladder issues that an internal catheter can’t, such as when an individual is going through alcohol withdrawal, to base medication dosage on urination, or when a patient is prone to bladder spasms and stones.

External Catheter Disadvantages: Using the wrong size of external catheter can cause it to fall off or leak. Skin irritation including allergic reactions to latex in the catheter or adhesive can occur. Because they are relatively easy to remove, external catheters for men suffering dementia are not recommended.

Finding the Right Size

To determine the right size, the patient is recommended to measure the circumference of the penis at its widest point. This should be done when the patient is sitting down on the edge of a chair or bed and has his legs apart. If the measurement falls between sizes, size down to reduce leaks while in use.

Beyond leakage, a poor fit can lead to irritation and skin breakdown, is more likely to fall off and may pose complications with removal.

How to Use External Catheters

  • Wash your hands and penis with warm water and soap. For bedridden patients and application away from home, options like Kendall disposable washcloths make this hygiene step easier.
  • Let your penis dry completely. You may apply a skin protectant or sealant to your penis and pubic area to avoid adhesive irritation. Make sure it is smooth and dry before proceeding.
  • Place the external catheter over the tip of your penis and unroll it toward the base, as you would a condom. Leave enough room so that the tip of your penis does not rub against the catheter.
  • Hold the catheter in place for about 15 seconds to allow adhesive to set.
  • (When Available) Place sheath strap over the condom catheter and make it snug but not tight enough to stop blood flow.
  • Attach the external catheter to tubing and a leg bag, which can be secured with straps below the knee.