• The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

The condom catheter

Passing urine with a condom catheter

The urine is drained into the bag using reflexes – this means rhythmical tapping (triggering) on the lower abdominal region above the pubic bone triggers the drainage of the bladder. This drainage technique only works in the case of spastic cystoparalysis.

How does triggering work?

Triggering enables a stimulation of the reflex arc1 – thus the emptying of the bladder can be controlled manually. This drainage technique stimulates the stretch receptors situated in the bladder walls. The bladder is contracted and is emptied. No mechanical pressure is required to stimulate the stretch receptors. The triggering equates to slow drumming.

The triggering continues until the bladder begins to empty and starts again as soon as the urine stops to flow. This might take up to ten minutes. How effectively the bladder is emptied, depends on the contraction of the bladder, the opening of the neck of the bladder, but also on the relaxation of the sphincter.

Initially, the bladder should be emptied in regular intervals of 3 – 4 hours. Later, the emptying can be adapted individually:

  • If you feel that your bladder is full or
  • If your body shows signs of a full bladder, such as goose bumps, sweating, headache, spasms or certain – individually different – sensations in the abdominal area.

The right product

Before the first application of a condom catheter, the right size has to be determined using a measuring tape, in order to make sure the condom is not too big or too small. There are a variety of adhesives, condoms, self-adhesive condoms and urine bags available on the market. If you experience problems with any of your material, alternatives can be found. The material needed can be obtained from companies specialised in incontinence articles or medical stores.

Important points

Make sure the urine bag is positioned below the bladder (bladder level) to ensure an unimpeded urine flow. The tube should never be bent.

As a precaution please ensure the proper fit of the condom and that the urine bag sits right after each transfer.


Whether you choose silicone or latex – the condom needs to be changed every 24 hours. Your personal hygiene is an important element with regard to keeping your skin healthy and thus enabling a long-term application of condom catheters.

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What do I need to do if no urine flows?

Please make sure the condom is not twisted. Review your fluid intake during the past hours. Try to feel whether your bladder is hard (= full) or not. If this is the case and there’s still no urine flow after the next triggering, please empty the bladder using a disposable catheter or consult your GP.

Triggering or a full bladder causes a headache. What might be the cause?

In most cases, the headache results from an extremely elevated blood pressure, caused by a dysfunction in the autonomic nervous system. This is also called autonomic dysregulation.

In the case of a severe headache or if no urine flows, it is important to empty the bladder immediately, possibly by means of a disposable catheter. In the case of a recurring headache, please consult your GP or urologist.

What do I need to do in the case of pain or burning in the urethra / bladder?

This might be the first signs of a urinary tract infection. Do a Nephur test. If the test is positive and / or the pain does not go away, please consult your GP.

What can I do if the penis skin is reddened?

In most cases, this is a fungal skin infection. If the skin is still red after a few days, despite good personal hygiene, please consult your GP.

What can I do if the penis skin is open or injured?

If the skin injury is not too big, a condom may still be applied using an extremely thin protective strapping. If the open skin does not heal within a few days, please consult your GP.

What can I do if the condom catheter suddenly does not fit any more?

Make sure you still use the right condom size – you might need a smaller condom. Very scaly, dry skin might reduce the adhesive effect. Please note that there are different types of condoms with different adhesives.

Check whether your penis “retracts into the abdominal area”. This is called “retracted penis”, and can lead to the condom slipping off. If this happens, contact a specialist condom supplier (i.e. neuro-urologist) or your GP.

1 Reflex arc = direct connection between the motor and sensory nerves in the spinal cord. Direct responses to stimuli are controlled via it, e.g. if you touch a hot stove, you will pull your hand away reflexively.

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