What is an external catheter?
An external catheter is a sheath worn on the outside of the penis for men with urinary incontinence as opposed to intermittent catheters. External catheters are an alternative to adult diapers.
How long can you wear an external catheter?
Generally, an external urinary catheter can be worn for up to 24 hours before needing to be removed and changed. You may need to change the catheter sooner if you experience any skin irritation or notice leakage.
Some external catheters are made of one single piece, while other styles are constructed of a few pieces. No matter which type of external catheter you use, a drainage bag is used along with it to collect urinary drainage. It is important that you wear the correct size catheter to ensure that it stays on and works properly. Please see our blog for information on condom catheter sizes and more.
Condom Catheter Options
A condom catheter is composed of one piece of molded silicone or latex. The flexible material makes it easy to roll the catheter onto the shaft of the penis. These catheters are non-invasive, which greatly reduces the risk of urethral trauma and urinary tract infections. Some condom catheters are made from transparent material, while others are opaque. One benefit of clear catheters is that you can monitor the condition of your skin. Condom catheters are available in standard length as well as short sheath options to provide the best fit.
Self-Adhering Male External Catheters
Many condom catheters are self-adhesive, meaning that they have already have adhesive on the inside of the sheath when you buy them. If you choose to use a catheter that is not self-adhering, it is a good idea to use an additional adhesive or a catheter fastener. A liquid adhesive is brushed onto the skin before applying the catheter. Another option is using an adhesive catheter strip. Some strips have adhesive on one side and are wrapped around the outside of the catheter. Other straps are adhesive on both sides, and are placed underneath the catheter sheath. Adhesive strips can only be used once. There are also fabric straps that secure using velcro. These can be washed with a washcloth, or adhesive remover, and reused. The securement method you use comes down to personal preference.
A Texas catheter is made of three pieces. These include a thin latex sheath, a rigid silicone tube, and a plastic catheter insert. The sheath is rolled onto the penis and urine flows through the attached silicone tube. The plastic insert is what holds the tube and sheath together. Keep in mind that Texas catheter sheaths do not have adhesive on the inside. You have the option of using a catheter strap to hold the sheath in place. Texas catheters can be purchased already assembled, or you can buy the supplies separately to make your own at home.
Another type of external catheter is a McGuire urinal. The design is similar to a jock strap with a flexible sheath. These sheath attaches to the garment using snap buttons. The waistbands of McGuire urinals fasten with either velcro or a tie closure. Both of these closure methods provide a secure fit. It is important to note that not all of the buttons on McGuire urinals are universal. You must make sure that the sheath and strap are compatible with one another before purchasing. The end of the sheath has a special connector that attaches to the drainage bag. You have to purchase a McGuire-style collection bag, as other bags do not have the correct connector.
Once you decide on an external catheter style, you will need to purchase a drainage bag to use in conjunction. A catheter leg bag is used along with a male catheter to collect urine throughout the day. A leg bag can be worn on your thigh or calf. If you want to wear the catheter bag on your thigh, you can attach the drainage bag right to the end of the catheter or use a short piece of extension tubing to connect the two. If you prefer to wear the leg bag on your calf, you will need to use longer extension tubing. A leg bag is only meant to be worn while you are up and moving. Urine will not drain properly if the catheter bag is in a horizontal position, such as when you are laying down. An large overnight catheter bag or a plastic drainage bottle should be used for urine collection at night.
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