What is a condom catheter?
Condom catheter (male external catheter) is a urine drainage option available for men suffering from certain urinary conditions. It consists of a cylindrical rubber sheath worn over the penis, which collects urine from the urethra. The condom is attached to a tube through which the urine passes into a drainage bag.
Condom catheters may be made from different materials. The condom part is made from latex rubber or other synthetic material. If the person has an allergy to latex, then the condom catheter made from other synthetic materials such as polyurethane is advised.
What are the conditions in which a condom catheter is recommended?
Condom catheter use is advised for:
- Urinary incontinence in men – Involuntary leaking of urine with or without urge
- Overactive bladder with incontinence
- Urine problems in men with some neuromuscular syndromes
- After complex orthopaedic pelvic surgery in men who can empty their urine but unable to reach out to toilets
What are the advantages of condom catheters?
The advantages of condom catheters include:
- Prevention of spilling and collection of urine into a bag
- Reduction of the urine odour
- Protection of the skin from contact with urine
- Reduction of urinary tract infections
- In bedridden patients, they may reduce the mixing of stools and urine and thus prevent urinary tract infections (such as those that happen when wearing an adult diaper)
What are the disadvantages of condom catheters?
The common disadvantages of condom catheters include:
- Slippage of the catheter due to incorrect sizing and placement
- Irritation of the penis
- Immediate hypersensitivity – allergic reaction that starts in a short duration
- Delayed hypersensitivity – allergic reaction which usually develops two to three days after use
How to use a condom catheter?
Unlike the internal urinary catheter, which is applied by a medical or a paramedical person, condom catheters can be applied by the concerned person himself or the caregivers. While the internal urinary catheter consists of a small, flexible tube inserted through the urethra into the urinary bladder, the condom catheter is not inserted into the urethra. Instead, it functions as a collection device that is worn over the penis to collect urine.
The condom catheter can be attached to the penis in different ways. Some have a Velcro attachment, while others are attached with a medical tape. Do not use any other adhesive tapes apart from the recommended ones or which come with the purchased kit.
The step-wise procedure to apply the condom catheter include:
- Clip the hair or shave the region at the base of the penis to prevent the hair getting caught in the condom
- Wash your (or the concerned person’s) hands and penis with water and soap
- Rinse and dry the penis
- Hold the penis at a 90-degree angle from the body
- Examine the penis to make sure that there are no broken or reddened skin
- Gently roll the condom over the penis with 1-2 inches of the condom catheter at the end of the penis
- At the base of the penis, wrap the sheath holder around the condom firmly enough. Do not wrap the sheath holder too tightly as this may affect the blood supply.
- Once the condom is fixed, connect it to the tube of the urine bag.
- Make sure that the condom is not twisted where it is attached to the catheter
- Fasten the urine bag (if it is a small leg bag) to your leg just below the knee using the catheter leg strap that comes with the kit. Leave some length of the tube slack, so that the catheter does not get pulled when you move your leg.
- When the condom catheter is used at night, fix the catheter to the bedsheet using a safety pin. Just pass the safety pin around the tube and do not pierce the catheter tube.
- The urine bag must be placed in a dependent position so that the urine flows downward. When the person is on the bed, the urine bag may be attached to the cot. When the person is on a chair, the urine bag may be attached to the chair below the cushion.
Things to note while emptying the urine bag
- Use a large container placed on the floor or hold the urine bag in the toilet.
- Remove the drain spout from the sleeve at the bottom of the urine bag, taking care not to touch the tip.
- Remove the slide valve on the spout.
- Let the urine flow out of the urine bag to the collecting container or into the toilet.
- Ensure that the drain tube doesn’t touch anything.
- Put the slide valve back and the place the drain spout into the sleeve at the bottom of the urine bag.
- Make a note of how much urine you drain each time, as the doctor may ask for this measure called as urine output.
How should you prevent an infection when using a condom catheter?
- Wash your hands with water and soap before and after doing any catheter care.
- Change the condom catheter every day.
- After removing the condom catheter, wash your penis daily.
- At least once in a week, clean the urine bag with soap and water.
- Empty the urine bag when it gets two-thirds full.
- When using a full-size urine bag, empty it every 8 hours and when using a smaller leg bag, empty it once in 3 to 4 hours.
When should you contact your doctor?
- If your penis becomes red, violet or swollen
- If urine becomes cloudy, thick or has mucus in it
- When your urine becomes red or pink
- No urine drained from the catheter for 6-8 hours
- There is a strong or foul smell from the urine
- There is burning sensation in your urinary tube (urethra) or pain while you pass urine
- Have pain in the lower abdomen
- You have fever (temperature > 101° F) or chills
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- The Male European Association of Urology. Good Practice in Health Care Nurses. External Catheter. Accessed at http://files.sld.cu/urologia-enfermeria/files/2012/03/eaun_mec_guidelines_en_2008_lr.pdf on 3 October 2016
- Allina Health. How to Care for Your Condom Catheter. Accessed at https://www.allinahealth.org/mdex/ND2528G.HTM on 3 October 2016.
- Stanford University. Applying a Condom Catheter. Accessed at http://virtuallabs.stanford.edu/vacg/bladder/what-are-the-methods-of-bladder-management/condom-catheterization/applying-a-c/index.html on 4 October 2016.