How to Choose the Right Size
Selecting the appropriate catheter size is essential, so most manufacturers provide a measuring guide.
In most cases, the penis should be measured at the shaft (where the diameter is the largest) to help you determine the right external catheter size.
Measure the circumference of the penis in millimeters.
Divide the result by 3.14 (Pi).
If penis circumference is 110 millimeters (4.3 inches), divide this number by 3.14::
110/3.14 = 35mm
If you fall between two sizes, opt for the smaller one to avoid leakage. Keep in mind, however, that if the external catheter is too tight, it may fall off.
External catheters can be purchased by the each. It is best to get the closest to the measured size, as well as the size above and below try on and find the best fit.
How To Apply an External Catheter
To experience the full benefits of the product, it is important that your external condom catheter is the right size and fits well.
Prepare the skin before application. Trim any hair present on the penis (or the base) to avoid them sticking to the adhesive. Skin must be clean and dry so be sure not to use any moisturizers or oils. A skin prep wipe or spray may be used for extra protection.
Unroll the condom catheter slowly while pressing against the skin. If you are uncircumcised, ensure the foreskin is in its natural position before applying the device. Once you have the device unrolled, squeeze it around the penis for a few seconds.
When applying a condom catheter, ensure that the end of the device isn’t touching the tip of the penis. Leaving a small gap at the end of the device (about ½ inch) will allow better flow of urine.
To connect the condom catheter to the urine collection bag, insert the drainage tube into the tip of the catheter.
How to Prevent Skin Damage from External Catheters
External catheters need to be changed/cleaned daily. Depending on your skin sensitivity – as well as the type of condom catheter – wear time can vary. Generally, wear time is between 12 and 72 hours.
After each catheter change, clean the skin and inspect for signs of skin irritation. To prevent skin damage and irritation, do not shave pubic hair and allow the skin to breath between changes.
Remove the condom catheter by detaching the device from the drainage tube. You may use warm water or an adhesive remover to ease removal.
How to Clean and Empty Your Leg/Drainage Bag
Urine that drains through the external condom catheter is usually collected in either a leg or a drainage bag. Drainage bags are larger and preferred for nighttime use.
Before and after changing or cleaning the urine collection bag, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Different types of urine collection bags may open in different ways. Typically, the bag will have a clamp or an opening that can be twisted or removed. The contents of the bag can be emptied directly into the toilet.
As leg bags are smaller than drainage bags, they need to be emptied more often. For most people, this should happen when the leg bag is half-full.
To clean your catheter bag, start by rinsing it with cold water. Drain the water into the toilet and fill the bag with one part vinegar and three parts water. Soak for at least 20 minutes, rinse, and let air dry.
Living with an External Catheter
Having to live with a long-term catheter may seem challenging and overwhelming. With the right catheter equipment and proper care, however, you will be able to quickly get back on track.
When choosing your external condom catheter, consider not only your anatomy, but also your lifestyle. Experiment with different catheter sizes in order to find the best fit. Focus on the material, drainage, and adhesion of your device and you’ll be able to assemble the best system for your personal needs and live a more active life.
Read our blog section for more information about catheter care, supplies, and product reviews!