What is a condom catheter?
A condom catheter is a thin, flexible sheath that is worn on the shaft of the penis to treat urinary incontinence. This product is also known as an external catheter because it does not enter the body. Some condom catheters are made of a single molded piece of silicone or latex, while Texas style catheters are made up of three pieces.
How does a condom catheter work?
A condom catheter works by directing urine from the penis into a urine collection bag. There are two types of collection bags, a catheter leg bag and an overnight urine bag. A catheter leg bag, which is worn during the daytime, can be attached directly to the end of the condom catheter or the two can be connected via extension tubing. At nighttime, you will need to use a larger overnight urine bag and longer extension tubing.
Why would you use a condom catheter?
A condom catheter is used by men who are not able to control their bladder function. If a man does not want to wear adult diapers, a condom catheter is a good alternative. This is a non-invasive catheter that is worn around the outside of the penis.
Many condom catheters are self-adhesive, meaning that they have already have adhesive on the inside of the sheath when you buy them. This helps keep the catheter in place and they are ready to use out of the box. If you choose to use a catheter that is not self-adhering, it is a good idea to use a separate adhesive or a catheter fastener to keep it in place. The adhesive is a skin-safe liquid that is brushed onto the skin prior to applying the catheter. A catheter fastener is a strip of foam or fabric that wraps around the shaft of the penis. Foam strips can have adhesive on one or both sides. The 1-sided adhesive strips go around the outside of the catheter. The 2-sided foam straps have adhesive on both sides and are placed underneath the catheter against the skin. Fabric straps are only worn on the outside of the catheter and secure using velcro. Adhesive strips can only be used once, whereas fabric strips can be reused.
A Texas catheter is made of a thin latex sheath, a rigid silicone tube, and a plastic insert that holds the tube and sheath together. Texas catheters can be purchased already assembled, or you can buy the supplies separately to make your own at home. Extension tubing will need to be connected to the silicone tube so that urine can flow into a collection bag. The sheath of a Texas catheter is typically thinner than more flexible than a molded external condom catheter. Texas catheters contain latex and should not be used if you have a latex allergy.
When using a condom catheter or Texas catheter, you will need to attach it to a catheter leg bag to collect urine throughout the day. A catheter bag can be worn on your thigh or calf, depending on your preference. If you wear it on your thigh, you can connect the catheter straight to the leg bag. If you want to wear it on your calf, you will need to use extension tubing so that urine can flow into the bag. A leg bag is only meant to be worn while you are up and moving. Urine will not drain correctly if the catheter bag is in a horizontal position, such as when you are laying down. A catheter bag must always be below the level of your bladder in order for it to work properly.
While you're sleeping, you will need to use an overnight catheter bag or drainage bottle to collect urine. Both of these products hold a large amount of liquid, which means you will not have to get up during the night to empty them. An overnight catheter bag, also called a urine bag, has a plastic hook or a fabric loop at the top. This allows you to hang it from the side of your bed, in a watertight container on the floor, or on a catheter stand. A urine bag comes with longer tubing so that you can move in your sleep without tugging on the catheter.
Another option you have to collect urine while sleeping is a night drainage bottle. These hard plastic containers hold anywhere from 2000 - 4000 ml of fluid, which means you won't have to empty it in the middle of the night. A night drain bottle has a wide base that prevents it from tipping over. Keep in mind that you cannot use standard extension tubing with a night bottle. You will need to use a special type of extension tubing that has connectors on either end. This type of tubing is included with most bottles, but you can also purchase it separately when it is time to replace the tubing. Be sure to regularly clean your night drainage bottle with a urinary appliance cleaner to improve its performance and lifespan.
No matter which external catheter style you choose to use, you must wear the correct size to ensure that the catheter works properly. If the fit is too loose, the catheter could fall off. If the catheter is too tight, it can be restricting. Please see our blog for information on condom catheter sizes and more.