Male External Catheter Troubleshooting: Sizing Importance

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
03/03/15  12:03 AM PST
Male External Catheter

Male external catheters (MECs) are used for temporary to chronic urinary incontinence as an alternative to indwelling Foley catheters or incontinence products such as liners, pull-ups and diapers. Some indications for use are reflexive voiding due to spinal cord injuries, decreased mobility and unmanageable urinary frequency or urgency.

When using MECs, it is important to use the correct size and to practice proper preparation, application and removal techniques to prevent leaking and skin damage. Below, you’ll find some helpful tips to choose the correct size:


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Correct sizing is important to prevent leakage and/or skin damage. Leakage may result if the catheter is too loose, but constriction may occur if it is too tight. MECs are flexible and the right size should be snug but not overly tight.

Helpful tips:

  • To get the right fit, measure the circumference of the penis with a size guide or metric measuring tape.
  • The penis should be measure in its relaxed flaccid state at the widest spot. If the measurement rangers between two sizes, the smaller-sized MEC will most often be more comfortable and work better. The larger of the two sizes may become loose and come off or allow urine leakage, leading to skin damage and complications over time.
  • A size that is too small or too tight can cause constriction, restriction of blood flow or obstruction.

It may take some trial and error to find the size that works best.

In addition, if you have a retracted penis, you can order a penis pouch. Type “condom catheter for retracted penis” into a search engine, such as Google, to find options for ordering those types of male external catheters. Shield HealthCare offers the Hollister Retracted Penis Pouch.

For more information, see related articles and condom catheter resources here:

Recent Urological


    1. Hi Thomas,

      Thank you for your question! If you are a Shield HealthCare customer, just give us a call on our 800-number and we would be happy to ship a size guide and samples to you.

      If you are not a Shield HealthCare customer, please contact our closest office to you, so that we can check to see if you’re eligible – phone numbers and locations can be found here:

      You can also request a size guide and samples directly from Male External Catheter manufacturers. Here are two numbers to start with:
      Coloplast Customer Service: 888-726-7872
      Hollister Customer Service: 888-740-8999
      And here is Hollister’s Size Guide PDF link:


  1. My husband has his condom changed at least once a day, depending how many fall off. About every 2 wks he gets really red & sometimes swollen around the tip of the penis. I don’t put one on again till it clears up. Then he’s in diapers which I don’t feel is much better cause he needs to be changed at least every 2 hrs. His Dr can’t look at it since he’s wheelchair bound & they don’t have a Hoyer lift. Could he possibly be allergic to the adhesive in the condom or the silicone?

    1. Hi Julia, there could be a few causes of your husband’s reaction to the condom catheter. A doctor would be in the best position to diagnose the issue, but hopefully these suggestions will help you troubleshoot. An allergy to a material is always possible – though if that was the underlying issue, he might encounter swelling/redness with every application. However, it is possible. If there is not quite enough space between the end of the condom catheter and the tip of the penis, pressure from natural penis size change is a possibility for the irritation/swelling. When applying the MEC, make sure to leave a small space between the drainage port and the tip of the penis to allow for changes in size. You might also try exploring different catheters, if you have not already – here are a few catheters to consider:

      Freedom Clear Advantage is a silicone male external catheter designed for maximum wear time. It features aloe in the adhesive, and the kink-resistant nozzle is designed to ensure a free flow at all times.
      • Skin-friendly adhesive with aloe
      • Not made with natural rubber latex
      • Self-adhering male external catheter
      • Kink resistant nozzle

      Freedom Clear Long Seal Condom Catheter:
      This male external catheter is made of PSX silicone material, which is stretchy and breathable.

      Conveen Optima: This catheter has built-in balanced adhesive designed to make it skin-friendly. Each sheath can be worn for up to 24 hours.

      If changing adhesive catheters doesn’t clear up the issue, you might also consider trying a non-adhesive condom catheter.

      Please give us a call at 800.228.7150 if you would like to speak with a product specialist for more detailed information about alternate product options. -Brooke, Shield HealthCare

  2. My trouble is, is that my penis will contract like the clitoris on a woman! My genitals look like a MONS VENERES! I tried Condom Catheters, but the things will CONTRACT INSIDE OF MY FORESKIN LIKE A TURTLE’S HEAD WITHDRAWING INSIDE OF ITS SHELL! Any condom catheter that might fit perfectly would be useless in a scenario like this!

    1. Hi Jon. Thank you for your comment. We would recommend using this search term in a search engine like Google: “condom catheter for retracted penis.” That will hopefully help you find options available to you. Best of luck. -Aimee, Shield HealthCare

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