An external catheter is a urine containment and conduit device used in management of urinary incontinence. It is fitted over the penis and connected to a storage bag typically attached to the leg. Unlike the internal catheters, external catheters are not inserted into the body cavities (urethra).
They are also known as condom catheters because they consist of a flexible sheath that easily slides over the penis in the same manner as a condom. This is used to direct the urine to the containment bag. Many men find the external catheters much better compared to the invasive catheters. Six advantages of external catheters are elaborated here.
1. They are Easier to Use
Being non-invasive, external catheters are easy to use by both the patient and the caregiver. An external catheter is fit over the penis just like a condom; hence no expertise is required like with the indwelling catheters. Many men can comfortably apply them on their own without professional help. Their removal for emptying and cleaning is also easier.
2. They are Painless
Traditional indwelling catheters are not comfortable to wear. They involve inserting some forms of tubes directly into the urethra. Many men find this process uncomfortable and some finding it even painful. With an external catheter however, these problems are not encountered because none of its parts is inserted since it is fitted on the outside. This guarantees comfort and no pain when wearing.
3. Lower Risk of Contracting Infections
The indwelling catheters require navigating through the protective barrier of the urethra and urinary tract using the catheter tubes. This may cause damage to this barrier increasing the risk of infection. With the external catheters however, nothing is inserted hence there is a less risk of damaging the protective barrier and causing infection of the urinary tract.
4. They are Cleaner
Compared to other methods of managing urinary incontinence, external catheters are much cleaner. They require changing and emptying of the bag which maintains the patient clean and drier, especially when compared to adult diapers.
5. They are More Unnoticeable
External catheters are much more discreet than other incontinence solutions such as adults’ diapers and pads. They are hardly noticeable and the urine is collected in non-leaking plastic bags hence no odor is emitted when using them. There is no direct contact between the urine and the patient’s skin, apart from the penis.
6. Less Costly in the Long Term
Their design and use allow cleaning and continuous use. Therefore, they reduce the cost of incontinence management by reducing the number of supplies needed. For instance, adult diapers and pads are used only once then disposed.
With these advantages, external catheters are more comfortable and convenient for most patients when compared to other incontinence supplies.