There are numerous medical conditions including urological disorders which lead to urinary incontinence and the inability to empty the bladder. These disorders can be long term or short term and can affect males, females, and children as well. In females, they affect the urinary tract. In males, the tract, as well as the reproductive organs, are affected.

Urethral Catheterization allows direct drainage of the urinary bladder. The catheters are of three types: Intermittent, Indwelling, and External catheters; The type of disorder and the gender determines the type of catheterization. The ‘Intermittent’ and the ‘Indwelling’ catheters are specifically designed for the female genital tract; the ‘External’ catheter is for males.

External Catheters with Collection Bags:

These catheters are condom-like cases worn over the penis and come attached to a collection bag. The urine from the bladder drains out into the collection bag strapped to the leg. Men prefer these catheters over the rest because they are easy to use and are non-invasive. The catheters are either made of latex rubber, PVC or silicone. The casing is attached to the penile shaft with an adhesive layering. However, doctors only recommend these catheters for urinary incontinence and not retention; an external catheter is of no use if an individual is unable to drain out the bladder.

Advantages of the catheters with Collection Bags:

There are several advantages of using a collection bag catheter. Some are:

• Are more comfortable while in function.

• Have less restricted movement.

• Prevents CAUTI, that is, Catheter-associated Urinary Tract Infection.

• They are non-invasive in process.

• Available for self-use at home.

Disadvantages of the catheters with Collection Bags:

External Catheters have some disadvantages as well. For example:

• They tend to leak if not snugly fit or if the wrong size is used.

• Continuous use and leakages can cause skin irritation and breakdown.

• Presence of adhesive can cause an allergic reaction

• They are of no use to patients with urine retention disorder.

What to expect from the collection bag?

  • Urine discharged from the penis passes through the catheter tube and drains out into the collection bag.
  • The collection bag is also called a leg bag and stays attached to the patient all day but allows comfortable movement.
  • The bag can be easily hidden under a dress, pant or skirt and come in a variety of designs and styles.

How to empty and clean the collection bag?

1. Draining the bag

Always begin the drainage process in a clean restroom. Follow the steps carefully and DO NOT let the collection bag or tube come in contact with any bathroom utilities. Drain your collection bag 2 to 3 times a day.

- Sanitize your hands with soap and water to avoid contamination, you can also wear gloves.

- Safely pull out the drainage tube of the collection bag and secure the nozzle at the top to avoid accidental spillage.

- Hold the bag over the toilet and open the nozzle at the bottom of the bag and empty it carefully.

- Disinfect the nozzle with rubbing alcohol and cotton ball and secure it tightly.

- Do not place the bag on the floor or anywhere else, and attach it back to the tube.

- Sanitize your hands again.

2. Cleaning the bag

Practice cleaning your bag every morning and every night before going to bed.

Always have two bags in hand, so when you clean one, you have another for use.

- Sanitize your hands well.

- Disconnect the tubing from the dirty bag and attach it to a clean one.

- Fill the dirt collection bag with a solution of 3 parts water and 2 parts vinegar. (1 tablespoon chlorine bleach with half a cup of water can also be used)

- Close the bag with the solution and give it a little shake.

- Let the bag soak in the solution for about 20-30 minutes.

- Drain the solution and rinse the bag with clean cold tap water.

- Hang and allow it to dry.

When to change the collection bag?

The collection bag is to be changed once or twice a month. If the bag smells and looks dirty it should be replaced immediately.

Consult a medic when not sure how to attach, clean or empty the collection bag.