What Is an External Male Catheter?

An external catheter is a urinary catheter designed specifically for the male anatomy. It is also often called a 'Condom Catheter' or a 'Texas Catheter'. External catheters are worn on the outside of the penis, much like a condom, with adhesives or straps that secure it to the skin. On the tip is a hole used to connect the catheter to a piece of tubing to attach it to a leg bag that is usually strapped to one leg.

External catheters are indicated for male incontinence to direct urinary flow. Incontinence can be caused by any number of medical conditions where control over urination is difficult or impossible, including recent surgery, prostatectomy, spinal cord injuries, or sometimes for mobility/safety issues related to using a toilet or urinal.

For most men, an external catheter is preferred when they can be used instead of an intermittent catheter for two main reasons:

  1. Less Invasive - There is no insertion with external catheters which means no complications associated with internal catheters.
  2. Risk of Infection Reduced - Since there is no uretheral insertion, with proper use, the risk of catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) is lower than with internal catheters.

Nextra Health has external catheters from Mentor-Coloplast, Bard, Rochester and more.

The ideal male catheter is:

  1. Fits Comfortably
  2. Fits Securely
  3. Leak-Proof
  4. Easy on the Skin
  5. Odor-Free
  6. Anti-Kinking

Choosing External Catheters

Nextra Health provides external catheters for sale individually, making it easy to explore different sizes, brands and features before making a large purchase.

Whether you are new to self-cathing, exploring more affordable options or looking for a catheter better suited to your lifestyle, we encourage you to try different models before commiting to a large order.

If you have latex sensitivities or allergies, be sure the catheters you choose are made of silicone and not latex. (Most urinary catheters today are made with silicone and do not contain any latex. For instance, all products from Rochester Medical are 100% silicone.) Below we've outlined some comparisons of common male catheters.

Choosing Your Size

External Catheter Sizing Guide
Click the chart above for a printable graphic.

Correct sizing is important for both safety and peace of mind. Something too small will either not fit or will be too uncomfortable. Something too big will not fit securely enough to ensure a leak-proof wear.

External catheters are measured by width. This measurement is most often in millimeters ranging from Small (25mm) to X-Large (41mm). If you are unsure of your correct size, we recommend trying a variety of external catheters to see which ones have the best fit.

Self-Adhering vs. Foam Straps

Self-Adhering Male External Catheter

Self-adhering models feature a band of adhesive on the inside wall of the catheter. When it is rolled on, the fluid-resistant adhesive holds the catheter securely in place. A good adhesive will adequately seal and prevent leaks while being gentle enough to remove without harming the integrity of the skin.

Male External Catheter with Foam Straps

However, even the most skin-friendly adhesives can wear down the skin. For those changing a catheter several times a day, it is worthwhile to consider using a non-adhesive condom catheter with an adjustable and reusable strap. It may not fit as securely as an adhesive condom catheter, but for with irritated or damaged skin it may be necessary.

Sheath Length

Male External Catheter with Standard Length Sheath

Sheath length is mostly determined by the length of the penis. Most men will find that a standard length external catheter suits them just fine.

Male External Catheter with a Short Sheath

For those with a short or retracted penis, a shorter catheter with forward-placed adhesive is preferred. This ensures a correct fit without risking leaks or detachment when wearing.

Urinary Leg Bag Systems and Collection Devices

A collection system is required to collect the urine when being worn. All condom catheters have a rigid tip at the end designed for connecting with tubing and a urinary collection device, such as a leg bag.

Urinary Leg Bag and Tubing

For active men, daytime requires something more mobile. A urinary leg bag connects with a piece of sterile tubing to a leg bag (usually vinyl) that can be worn against the thigh with adjustable straps. The leg bag often has an anti-reflux value (to help prevent backflow), a drainage valve for emptying, and straps to connect the bag to the thigh.

Urine Collection System

For overnight and long-term urine collection, the catheter is connected with an ample amount of tubing to connect with a collection container or extra large urine bag that designed for continuious draining and use. For overnight use, a bedside bag or container allows for general movement without the risk of pressing weight on the bag and causing breaks/leaks or backflow that can risk an infection.

Best Selling Male External Catheters

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