Helpful Hints for Using Male External Catheters

Useful information to men who have starting using male external catheters

Using Male External Catheters like the OptimaFirst thing men try to determine is which external catheter will work for them.  There are different types and styles, and sometimes the best way to determine what works best is by trying the different types and styles. There are things to consider when choosing the right male external catheter for you.  Just because one style of external catheter you tried did not perform like you thought it would does not mean that all of them will.  Keep in mind that your skin is unique and that everyone’s skin and situation is different. How to choose the correct size catheter: Male external catheter sizes are determined by a girth measurement.  This has nothing to do with length but more important the circumference of the penis.  We have a size guide on our site to help you determine the correct size.  The best way to picture it is to think of different sizes of coins.  Choosing a catheter size that is too small will make it virtually impossible to put on, and choosing a size to big will not allow it to stay on. Most male external catheters (MEC) have an adhesive lining inside the sheath.  So as the catheter is rolled on a seal is being created.  Think of it as a sensitive band aid.  Since there is an adhesive in the catheter some men have a problem with their public hair getting caught in the catheter.  The manufacture as a trick to fold a paper towel into 1/4ths or quarters so that you can cut a corner of the towel, and when you opening it up there is a hole in the center of the towel.  Pushing the penis through the hole will keep the hair behind the towel and make a shield between the pubic hair and the male external as it is rolled on.  Once the catheter is in place the towel can be torn away.  This method is very helpful but not fool proof.  Sometimes the towel gets caught in the adhesive and then you have paper sticking to the catheter.  The best thing to do is to take a blunt pair of scissors and cut the hair to a short length so that it does not interfere with the catheter as it is rolled on. Some things to know about your skin:  Perspiration and body oils from the skin can break down adhesive.  Think of it like when you wear a band-aid.  Over the course of the day the adhesives in a band-aid loose their adhering properties.  The same applies with external catheters.  Making sure the skin is good and clean is important before applying a male external catheter.  We like to call it fresh out of the shower clean.  This is when your skin is the cleanest it will be throughout the day.  Lanolins, or soaps that contain moisturizes are not advised to use on the skin were a male external is worn.  These contain ingredients that break down adhesive faster and that can lead to the catheter coming off. The use of a skin barrier (Shield Barrier) puts an extra layer of protection between your skin and the catheter.  They come in a small packet similar to a wet nap, and once applied to the skin and has dried it will leave the skin feeling a little tacky.  This protects your skin and at the same time gives the catheter something to adhere to besides your skin. Cutting the tube to the correct length: If you are using a leg bag system with your catheter the length of tubing supplied with the kit is usually more than enough.  Depending on where you where your leg bag (on calf or the thigh) you will most probably need to trim the length of tubing.  Determining the correct length is important.  Too much tubing can cause it to kink and obstruct the flow to the collection bag.  Cutting it too short can cause the catheter to tug on you as you walk, and could possibly pull it from the catheter.  A good method to determine the length is to connect the tubing to the collection bag and hold the tubing with the connector between your fingers to where it meets the cone of the catheter.  Position your leg to the longest stride you take when you walk, and determine how much extra tubing should be cut off.  Disconnect the tubing from the connector on the bag the take a pair of scissors to cut off the excess tubing. MEC Types and Styles  The most popular brand and style is the Freedom Clear Male External Catheter made by Coloplast.  This catheter is 100% latex free and made of silicone.  It is a transparent catheter so that you can inspect your skin during the course of the day. It has an ultra thin sheath designed for everyday wear.  Available in 5 sizes and good for about a 24 hour wear period. People that have an oilier skin base, or that live in a humid climate may need to use a catheter like the Clear Advantage.  This catheter has a more aggressive adhesive in it.  Available in 5 sizes, it is designed to be worn for a period of 48 hours.  It is made of 100% silicone, but incorporated in the adhesive is Aloe Vera.  This makes it better for the skin for the long wear period.  Putting the Freedom Clear, and the Clear Advantage next to each other outside of their packaging you could not tell the difference between the two. The first type of male external catheter that was introduced over 40 years ago was called a Texas Catheter” the Gizmo.  Available in 3 sizes. This type of catheter is still popular today among some men.  It is a latex catheter that contains no adhesive at all.  It is rolled onto the penis, and comes with a piece of adhesive tape that is foamy.  This is wrapped around the outside of the catheter to keep it in place.  This type of catheter does not work for everyone.  Some men experience blow offs because the only thing keeping the external on is a piece of tape. If they urinate and have a surge sometimes it causes a blow off.  Because it is made of 100% latex, and if you are prone to allergic reactions from latex this type of catheter is not recommended. Coloplast also makes a external catheter that is 100% latex, and also contains an adhesive lining.  It is called the Freedom Cath, and still popular among men today.  Good for about 24 hours of wear time and available in 4 sizes. Again because it is made of latex it is not recommended if you have allergic reactions to latex. The Freedom Clear LS (Long Seal) is a catheter that contains a longer length of the adhesive seal. About 2 7/8” sheath length.  So there is more material to roll down the length of the penis for provided security and comfort.  This catheter is also made of 100% silicone.  24 hour wear time and available in 5 sizes The Freedom Clear SS (Sport Sheath) is a catheter that contains less material to roll onto the penis. About 2” sheath length.  This prevents the roll of extra material at the base of the penis.  This catheter is good for men who have trouble keeping other male externals on because of a retraction problem.  24 hour wear time and available in 5 sizes How to remove the external catheter: This can vary from person to person also.  Some men can roll them off just as easy as they rolled them on.  For others who have a dry skin base this can be a little difficult as the adhesive tends to stick well to dry skin.  Never try to force the catheter off.  Be gentle and take your time and it will come off almost effortlessly with a little patience.  Some helpful hints to remove a catheter are
  • Wrap a warm wash towel around the penis.  This will allow moisture to build up under the seal, and help ease it off.
  • Take a blunt pair of scissors, and snip the band at the base of the catheter.  Carefully tear the catheter so that you can peel it away from your skin.
  • Use baby oil, or skin moisturizer to work it under the catheter seal so that is loosens the seal and breaks down the adhesive.  This is also helpful to help remove any adhesive residue that remains on the skin.  There are also Adhesive Remover wipes that are similar to a wet nap, and are sold in boxes of 50ea.
This should help you with finding the right male external catheter for you, and any issues you may experience along the way.  Should you need any further assistance or want some samples please call Coloplast at 888-726-7872 and tell them sent you.  

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