External Catheters | Condom Catheters
External Catheters, also commonly referred to as condom catheters or male catheters, are used by men to treat urinary incontinence. This type of catheter consists of a flexible sheath that slides over the penis just like a condom. Many men find external catheters to be a great alternative to more invasive catheters, such as indwelling catheters that require insertion through the urethra. In addition to being a great alternative, the condom catheter is incredibly easy and straightforward to use, since it is simply rolled onto the penis. Generally speaking, an external catheter affixes to the penis by an adhesive.
Quick Links to External Catheter Information and Guides
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There are a number of factors to consider when selecting a catheter that will meet your specific and individual urinary needs:
- Ease of use.
Manufacturers are well aware of these determinants and respectively establish their catheter lines. Rochester, Hollister, and Coloplast tend to focus on silicone catheters, so if you have a known latex allergy, these brands may be better suited for you. Additionally, silicone catheters tend to feature an integrative adhesion. If you do not have a latex allergy, you may want to check out Rusch and Urocare brands, as they tend to focus on developing latex catheters. Latex catheters, typically, come without an adhesive and, therefore, need to be coupled with a one-sided or two-sided strip.
The main benefits of a latex catheter: low-cost and ease of use. The main disadvantages are allergic reactions and a poor quality seal. However, not every male needs to have a superlative seal.
The main benefits of a silicone catheter: highly breathable, prevents skin irritation, odor-free material, uniform adhesive, and clear sheath. In reality, there is only one main disadvantage to a silicone catheter: cost. However, these catheters are suitable for almost any situation and need.
In summary, if you do not have a latex allergy or are looking for an inexpensive male external catheter, a latex male external catheter may be the perfect option for you. However, if you are searching for a catheter that will be well suited to the integrity of skin or comfortable to wear, you may want to experiment with a silicone male external catheter. Peruse each product description to determine individual specifications, as they will help you choose the right catheter for your needs.
External Condom Catheters are a non-invasive treatment for urinary incontinence in men. Specific indications for these catheters include the following conditions:
- Damage to sphincter from prostatectomy.
- Limited access to a toilet from dementia, impaired vision, or decreased mobility.
- Reflexive voiding from spinal cord injuries.
- Safety concerns with unsupervised or unassisted toilet use.
- Unmanageable urinary frequency or urgency.
Contraindications are few, but do exist and should be taken into consideration when deciding which catheter option is right for you. If you are unsure, you should always confer with your medical provider to determine if a male catheter will work for you. Specific contraindications for external catheters include the following conditions:
- Allergy or sensitivity to latex or adhesives. However, there are some condom catheters available that are not constructed of latex, such as silicone. If you need this style of catheter without an adhesive, make sure to check out Texas Catheters, as they affix to the penis with an elastic foam or hook and loop strap.
- Catheter induced hypospadias.
- Complications with the glans penis and/or penile shaft, including the following:
- Open lesions.
- Skin irritations.
- Phimosis and paraphimosis.
In order to determine the appropriate condom catheter size, please reference this Condom Catheter Sizing Guide. Once you have the sizing chart pulled up on your monitor, print the guide and cut out the colored notches. From there, place the notch behind the glans penis and select the size that offers the closest fit.
Alternatively, you can measure the circumference (c) of the penis in millimeters and use the following formula to determine your size: (c x 7)/22. This formula will give you the diameter of the penis, which is how external caths are measured (e.g., 25 mm, 29 mm, et cetera).
Proper application of a male condom catheter is crucial to ensure successful use.
- Make sure any residual adhesive or creams have been completely removed from the penis.
- Wash the penis thoroughly with soap and water.
- Completely dry the penis.
- While applying the external male catheter, leave the foreskin down, over the glans penis, in its natural position. If you do not have foreskin, you do not have to worry about this step.
Suggestions for Applying Catheters
- Avoid using moisture barrier creams or any other ointments that may disrupt the adhesive included with some catheters.
- Continually monitor for constriction of the penis, in addition to any kinks that may occur in the catheter's collection tube.
- Do not use an adhesive tape to affix the catheter to the penis, as that is not there purpose and can lead to complications like penis restriction, inflexibility of the catheter, and trauma to the penis.
- To avoid skin irritation, do not shave pubic hair.
Wear times can vary based on the type of external condom catheter being used and a patient's skin sensitivity. Generally, wear times are between 12 and 72 hours and should be re-evaluated periodically.
- Removal of the male external catheter is easily done by soaking the penis with a warm washcloth for approximately 30 seconds.
- Unless otherwise indicated by the manufacturer, make sure to remove the catheter daily for cleaning and skin inspection.
Many problems with external male catheters are commonly attributed to equipment malfunctions and user error. Many of these problems can be avoided altogether with proper hygiene and precise knowledge of application. Some of the following complications may arise from use:
- Allergic reaction.
- Bacteriuria and urinary tract infection.
- Inflammation of the glans penis.
- Ischemic tissue injury.
- Penile erythema, dermatitis, pruritus, and maceration.
- Skin tears.
Why does my condom catheter keep falling off from my penis?
- The sizing might be incorrect. If you think this might be a possibility, make sure to peruse our External Catheters Sizing Guide. Please be aware that the penis can vary in size according to fluctuations in temperature and position. If you find yourself having this problem, try measuring the penis in the position when a male catheter most commonly slides off of the penis.
- If the penis retracts while in certain positions, a shorter external urinary catheter may be appropriate for your use.
- Nocturnal erections. Please allow for an increase in penis size.
- Using moisturizers, creams, and even powders can affect the adhesion of the catheter. If possible, please avoid them.
- Too much distance between the drainage port and glans penis. If there is too much space, the urine can backflow and cause a break in the seal between the catheter and the skin.
- The condom catheter might be twisted or dislodged, preventing proper flow of urine to the bag.
- Tubing might be kinked or obstructed. Make sure to regularly inspect the tubing accessory.
- The external catheter may be too tight. If this is the case, the pressure would obstruct the urethra, preventing urine to freely flow into the collection bag.
- A vacuum can sometimes occur at the end of the condom catheter and can inhibit drainage. You can break the vacuum by briefly disconnecting the drainage device.