Many men find that urinary sheaths are a convenient, effective means of managing male incontinence.
Sheath systems are body-worn collection devices that are appropriate for men with moderate to severe incontinence. Though models differ among manufacturers, generally speaking these systems consists of a flexible, condom-like apparatus that fits over the penis and is connected by tubing to a urine collection bag.
The penile apparatus may be held in place with straps or medical grade adhesive. Collection bags vary in size, with smaller bags for daytime use and larger bags for overnight use. Collection bags are generally worn on the leg, held in place with straps. Some systems include a leg bag sleeve for additional security.
The sheath, tubing, and collection bags are disposable and should be changed regularly.
Correct fit is crucial
In order for a sheath product to work with maximum efficiency, proper fit is essential. If the device is too loose it can leak, become dislodged, or even come off all together, and it it’s too tight it can lead to discomfort and even serious skin problems.
Most manufacturers offer sheaths in a variety of sizes and offer special sizing guides to help make the correct size selection. Because sizing isn’t necessarily consistent among manufacturers, it’s important to consult the sizing guide of the specific manufacturer.
It is definitely best to consult with a health care professional before commencing use of one of these systems. Your physician can let you know if there are any conditions that would preclude the use of a system, and can also offer sizing advice.
Advantages of sheath systems
– They provide secure, comfortable protection for a relatively long period. These systems can remain in place for as long as 12- 24 hours, and even longer in some special circumstances. This can be a distinct advantage for men with limited mobility or those who need caretaker assistance with incontinence management.
– They are cost effective. The systems are affordable and though the component parts do need to be replaced regularly, the cost is relatively low.
– They are useful in the management of all levels of incontinence. Unlike diapers, pants and pads systems, and other incontinence garments, most of which are best for light to moderate incontinence, these systems are efficient for even severe incontinence and overnight use. Many also find them a good option for travel or other situations where there may be limited opportunity to use a toilet or to change pads or liners.
– They are easier to use, more comfortable, and present fewer potential heath problems than the use of a surgical indwelling catheter.
Disadvantages of sheath systems
– Incorrect fit can render the system entirely ineffective.
– There is a potential for skin problems, especially in men who are sensitive to latex or who have an adverse reaction to the adhesives that are sometimes used to hold the apparatus in place.
– Men with cognitive impairment may try to remove the device, which could result in injury.
– It can take time and practice to get used to these systems.
– Men with limited mobility or manual dexterity may need caretaker assistance with the system, as may those with cognitive impairment.