Male External Catheters

Male External Catheters

Male external catheter systems are catheters used to collect urine leakage that fit like a condom in a man penis and connects to a drainage bag that is normally strapped to the man's leg. Because of the way they are used many people refer to them as condom catheters. These male external catheters are much safer to use than internal catheters since a tube doesn't need to be placed in the bladder - therefore the risk of infection or trauma is severely diminished.

Most of the catheters are disposable and generally non reliable for greater than 24 to 48 hours. These are used mostly on the elderly people that due to illness are dependent on others and have a compromised mobility. But there's also reusable male external catheters aimed at active men who have an incontinence problem after having prostate surgery, for example. These reusable condom catheters are a great alternative for the use of "diapers" or pads, that many men frown upon.

Male External Catheters

Condom Catheters with Adhesive Foam
Condom Catheters with Adhesive Foam
Silicone Catheter with Cuff
Silicone Catheter with Cuff

A Catheter for everyone!

Male external catheters come in many materials, sizes and even shapes! They can be made from latex, rubber, polyvinyl, or silicone. Beware of the latex ones as some people can be allergic to latex. If that's the case give preference to any of the other materials - silicone is the most anti-allergenic substance.

There are also several methods to attach them to the shaft of the penis:

- with a double-sided adhesive;

- latex inflatable cuff;

- using a a jockey's type strap;

- or a foam strap.

The inflatable cuff is probably the one that provides the better fixation but some people feel uncomfortable with it, as the circumferential band may be too restricting to the shaft of the penis. Anyway, if the man can adapt to it it's the safest way not to lose urine.

Of course, as regular condoms, male external catheters have a wide range of sizes. Actually most manufacturers have sizing charts and it's very important that you choose the correct size - too small it won't even fit the shaft, too large and it will be hard to fixate and prevent loss of urine. You should choose the size that makes it tight on the shaft of the penis without becoming a nuisance.

Male External Catheter Strap-On

You can strap the Condom Catheter to your thigh for safety, comfort and easy locomotion!
You can strap the Condom Catheter to your thigh for safety, comfort and easy locomotion!

How to put your Male External Catheter

Here's the correct procedures for placing your male external catheter (with adhesive / strap fixation):

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Gather your equipment: correct-sized condom catheter, leg drainage bag with tubing, clamp, manicure scissors, soap, washcloth, towel, and protective ointment.
  3. Trim the hairs on the shaft and base of your penis so they won't stick to the adhesive tape.
  4. Before each catheter change, wash, rinse, and dry your penis.
  5. To protect your skin from urine, coat your penis with protective ointment and let the ointment dry (it will feel sticky).
  6. Tightly roll the condom sheath (balloon-like part) to the edge of the connector tip. Now place the catheter sheath on the end of your penis, leaving about half an inch of space between the tip of your penis and the connector tip.
  7. Gently stretch your penis as you unroll the condom. Roll the condom catheter smoothly. When the condom is unrolled, gently press it against your penis, so that it sticks.
  8. Connect one end of the tubing to the connector tip and the other end to the drainage bag. Strap the drainage bag to your thigh.
  9. To remove the drainage bag, clamp the tube closed. Release the leg straps, and disconnect the extension tubing at the top of the bag. Remove the condom catheter and the tape by rolling them forward.

In case of fixation via an inflatable cuff, after unrolling the condom in step 7, just insufflate the cuff with a syringe full of air until it's fully tight around the shaft of the penis.

Common Problems with Male External Catheters

With Male External Urinary Catheters there's still a risk of infection but it's much smaller than with catheters that are placed in the bladder. Most common problems are:

  • skin irritation and maceration caused from the friction caused by the external catheter - usually avoided if you use the protective ointment before each application, as described above;
  • in older men it may be difficult to keep the condom from falling off because of the retraction of the penis (decrease in size) common in advanced age - in this case you have to pay extra attention to the choosing the right size and way of fixation;
  • be extra alert to any sign of skin rash, maceration of the penis, ischemia (bad blood irrigation) and penile obstruction as it may be indicate a too tight catheter - exchanging to a size above usually solves this problem.

Reference: Newman, DK. Managing and Treating Urinary Incontinence. Health Professions Pr. 2002

Comments 10 comments

SOFIA  6 years ago

where can i buy this


profiler profile image

profiler 6 years ago from Currently in this universe Author

In any pharmacy


chamilj profile image

chamilj 5 years ago from Sri Lanka

Really useful. Rarely discussed subject. Thanks!


Lew 4 years ago

can it be worn when laying down?


profiler profile image

profiler 4 years ago from Currently in this universe Author

Yes, without a problem.


SRosa 4 years ago

What is the proper length for the tube? We are trying this for the second time and the tubing we received is about 4 feet long...needless to say...it was WAY too long.


makeuc 3 years ago

how long should it take before a male age 82 can urinate after removing catheter


profiler profile image

profiler 3 years ago from Currently in this universe Author

@makeuc this is an article about external catheters so that male is already capable of urinating on his own.


marco 2 years ago

i try to buy in any pharmacy the inflatable catheter.. but without result in italy... any help?


Alvinet profile image

Alvinet 24 months ago

I didn't know that it can be done in this way too :)

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