The purpose of a catheter is to treat urinary incontinence, and there are many different catheter types and condom catheter sizes that are available for people to choose from. There is even a female condom catheter, but that’s for a different guide altogether. With an external catheter for a male, you don't have to worry about developing any urinary tract infections in comparison to indwelling catheters.
Characteristics Of An External Catheter
External catheters are also sometimes called condom catheters and Texas catheters. External male catheters are a less-invasive catheter product used to help people males deal with urinary incontinence.
With an external catheter, the sheath will simply fit right over the penis much like how a condom does. These types of catheters are very discreet and you can wear them comfortably underneath your clothing. The sheath that cups over the penis will stop leakage from occurring. There will be a thin tube connected to that sheath so that urine will fall down the tube into the drainage bag.
External Catheters For Males - Different Types
It's good to try out a couple of different external catheters so that you can find one that works well for you. Everyone has a different body, and that means that there isn't one external catheter that will fit every single person in the same way.
The big catheter companies manufacture condom catheters that come in many different shapes and sizes. The material used to make these catheters is either silicone or latex.
Latex Condom Catheters
The latex condom catheters are known to be very straightforward and simple to operate, but some people might be allergic to latex, so they'll have to stick with the ones made out of silicone.
Silicone Condom Catheters
While silicone condom catheters are a little more expensive, they are a good alternative for those that are allergic to latex. They offer a good seal, are breathable, and come with a clear sheath.
The two categories of external male catheters are self-adhesive and non-adhesive:
Self-adhesive catheters will adhere to the skin by just lightly pressing on it.
With non-adhesive catheters, you'll have to use an adhesive product to secure it with the skin. This can come in the form of adhesive skin glue, foam strips, or adhesive strips. For those that have to repeatedly change the catheter on multiple occasions throughout the day, it's suggested to go with a non-adhesive one.
Is It Difficult To Pick The Proper Size?
It's always good to select a condom catheter that will work for your body type. The majority of the manufacturers that make condom catheters supply a measuring guide that makes it easy to figure out what size will work for you.
When you're doing the measurements, you'll be measuring your penis starting at the shaft because that's typically where the diameter is at its thickest.
You'll be using millimeters for measuring the circumference. Once you've figured out that number, you'll be dividing it by 3.14. Here is an example:
If you've measured the circumference of your penis to be 110 millimeters, then you'll just divide 110 by 3.14. This will give you 35 millimeters.
For people that have done their measurements and found the size to be right between two different condom catheter sizes, then it's best to go with the one that's lesser in size so that you lower the chances of any leakage happening. One thing to note is that if you select a catheter that's too tight, there is a chance that it can slide off. You'll always want to select an external catheter that is closest to the measurements that you took.
How To Use External Catheters
After you've figured out what size of a catheter to get, you'll now want to try it out to see if it fits properly.
The first step is to prepare your skin. This will involve cutting any hair around the base of the penis so that it won't get stuck on the adhesive. Also, ensure that the surrounding skin is clean and completely dry. If you have any skin prep wipes, using these can help prepare your skin beforehand.
After your skin is prepared, you can gently unroll the catheter towards your skin. For those that aren't circumcised, you'll want the foreskin to be in the neutral position while the catheter is applied. When the catheter is fully unrolled, give it a gentle squeeze for a couple of seconds so that it adheres to the penis.
A condom catheter shouldn't be coming in contact with the tip of your penis. To prevent this from happening, you'll want to leave a tiny space between the end of it and the penis. Half of an inch is the suggested amount of space to leave. Doing this will let your urine flow better.
In order to attach the catheter to the collection bag, all you have to do is slide in the drainage tube to the tip of the catheter.
Is There Anything That Can Be Done About Skin Irritation?
You'll want to change external catheters and give them a good clean every day. Some people have more sensitive skin than others, so some might need to change the catheter more frequently. The general rule of thumb is that you can wear it anywhere between half a day to three days.
When you change your catheter, you'll want to give your skin a good clean. Also, look out for any irritation in your skin that might be occurring. If you want to lower the chances of skin irritation occurring, ensure that you're not shaving any pubic hair in the area. When you change the catheter, give your skin a chance to breathe for a bit.
To take the condom catheter off, all you have to do is take out the drainage tube that's securing it together. Sometimes using an adhesive remover can make this process easier.
Emptying And Cleaning Your Leg Or Draining Bag
The urine that flows through your catheter will collect in a leg bag or a drainage bag. The majority of people use drainage bags if they're wearing the catheter all night.
To empty and clean your collection bag, you'll want to give your hands a good wash before starting the process. Most urine collection bags have a clamp that can be removed, but it all depends on your collection bag. After that, you can empty the bag in the toilet.
Leg bags aren't as big as drainage bags, and because of that, you'll need to empty them more frequently. It's suggested to empty the leg bag when it gets to about half full.
The best way to clean a collection bag is to initially give it a good rinse with cold water. After that, dump the water in the toilet and then refill the bag with one part vinegar to three parts water. Let it soak for around twenty minutes. Once that's done, rinse it out and then let it sit there for a while to dry it out.
It's always good to consider your lifestyle when you're going about choosing your condom catheter. If you live a very active lifestyle, then the size and fit might be different than someone that has a sedentary lifestyle. Trial and error and proper measurements will help you find one that works perfectly for you.