Body-worn urinals are a male device designed to collect urine as it leaves the body. They are an alternative to a sheath system.
Click on the purple tabs below for more information about body-worn urinals.
Body-worn urinals are a very similar concept to sheaths but they are secured in place by straps or specially designed support underwear as opposed to adhesive.
Body-worn urinals comprise a rubber cone (into which the penis fits) and a flange (with a central hole through which the penis passes) which fits around the base of the penis.
There are two main designs of body-worn urinal:
One-piece – the cone and flange are a single, combined unit
Two-piece – the cone and the flange are separate units which connect together.
Body-worn urinal components are available in different sizes; flange openings have varying diameters as do the cones which fit onto them, and cones are available in different lengths. Good fit is important for avoiding leakage and comfort, so ensure you have the correct size
Body-worn urinals are held in place by straps; these run from the flange over the abdomen at the front of the body, and under the groin and across the buttocks at the rear of the body where they connect with a waist strap. Some men prefer to use specially designed underwear with ‘pockets’ to accommodate the urinal components.
Body-worn urinals are usually connected to a body-worn drainage bag. However, some have a tap at the distal end of the cone instead of a connection to a drainage bag; if your leakage is very light it may be possible for it to be contained within the cone (which is periodically emptied) thus avoiding the need for an additional drainage bag.
Body-worn urinals are a more substantial type of collecting device than sheaths. Whereas sheaths are disposable and thrown away after a single use, body-worn urinals are designed to be washed and re-used multiple times. Two body-worn urinals are likely to last one man up to a year (or longer) depending on how frequently they are used and how thoroughly they are washed and dried.
Body-worn urinals are designed to be worn for extended periods; for example, to be put on in the morning and worn all day.
‘Mix and match’ – some men prefer to wear a body-worn urinal in specific circumstances, as part of a mix of products.
Until recently, there have been no trials of body-worn urinals. Findings from a recent trial with 56 men1 indicate that some men do find body-worn urinals useful although they are less popular than sheaths.
As for all male devices, good fit is important for comfort and to ensure the urinal stays in place thereby minimising the risk of leakage from around the urinal. Fitting by a specialist appliance practitioner is important to achieve this until you learn how to do it correctly yourself.
The flange of the body-worn urinal places pressure around the base of the penis which can help to expose the shaft of the penis, creating a more functional ‘spout’. For this reason, a body-worn urinal may be an effective alternative to a sheath where penile retraction exists.
A recently developed body worn urinal comprises a hard plastic cone which fits into and is secured in place by close fitting underwear. The drainage bag can be connected directly to the cone and secured to the leg of the undergarment. The rigidity of the cone may provide additional pubic pressure.
Body-worn urinals may be less successful than sheaths in certain positions; for example, when lying or sitting. Urine drains with gravity and may leak around the flange which does not have the quality of seal achievable with adhesive sheaths. Penile dislodgement can also occur and body-worn urinals are therefore more likely to be successful for mobile men, during the day.
If a body-worn urinal contains your leakage successfully and you prefer to use a reusable, and, therefore, potentially more cost effective product, a body-worn urinal may be for you.
Try using a body-worn urinal as part of a mix of products; some men use a body-worn urinal when they are going out (perhaps when they are worried about finding a toilet) and an alternative product, such as a pad, when they are at home. It is worth trying a combination of products to see which works for you in different circumstances / during different activities.
Body-worn urinals – which are designed to contain bladder leakage - are unlikely to be useful for you if you have both bowel and bladder leakage. If you have very light bowel leakage you may be able to wear a small pad that doesn’t interfere with your use of the body-worn urinal. However, using larger pads may make it difficult to position the sheath and the drainage bag tubing properly.
It may be possible to wear a body-worn urinal at the same time as a faecal collecting device. However, faecal collecting devices are usually used where the person is confined to bed and a body-worn urinal may not work as effectively as a sheath (or pad) in this position. Click on faecal devices for information about these products.
Men with good use of their hands generally find body-worn urinals easy to manage.
If your hand control is impaired, you may find putting on a body-worn urinal, or some aspects of the process, more difficult. For example, you may not be able to connect the straps or drainage bag easily but find you can insert your penis into the cone. If the straps and drainage bag connections are done by a helper, you may then be able to pull the device up over your body (as if you were putting on underwear), placing your penis in the cone unaided. A body-worn urinal secured in place by underwear only may be easier to put on.
Prior to applying the body-worn urinal wash the penis thoroughly with soap and water and ensure it is dry.
Protective skin wipes can be used to protect the skin but give the skin time to dry before putting the body-worn urinal on.
Click on drainage bags for information about cleaning the semi-disposable drainage bags.
Body-worn urinals do not take up much storage space. You are likely to need two body-worn urinals depending on how frequently you use them.
The drainage bags are semi-disposable; you may need 4-5 drainage bags per month and they tend to come in boxes of around 10 – 20 bags.
Body-worn urinal parts (cone, flange and straps) are not generally disposable items; they are usually designed to be re-used multiple times (maybe for up to a year depending on frequency of use and extent of soiling).
Some body-worn urinals have semi-disposable drainage bags which connect directly onto the flange; these bags, and other body-worn drainage bags, can usually be used for about a week after which they should be rinsed out and then wrapped in a small bag/nappy sack and disposed of in the normal household waste.
Contact your local waste collection service to find out about any specific local requirements.
If you are staying away from home you will need to plan in advance how to dispose of products discreetly.
Click on Travel for tips from product users when away from home.
The cost of body- worn urinals varies according to the country you live in, so it is not possible to give you an exact price range. Body-worn urinals are relatively expensive products to purchase (compared with disposable items). However, they are designed to deliver cost benefit when used repeatedly – the more times a device is used the cheaper it works out per use!
In some countries you may be able to get body-worn urinals free of charge through your health care provider. For example, in the UK you can get them from your family doctor as they are a classed as a medical device.
Body-worn urinals are manufactured and supplied by a few specialist companies. They are not likely to be available in retail outlets e.g. supermarkets. Sometimes, companies have specialist fitting nurses who will visit you at home and then help you purchase the correct items. Alternatively, you can purchase them directly from the manufacturer by phone or on the internet.
Click on Worldwide to find out how to obtain body-worn urinals where you are.
There are some disadvantages to using body-worn urinals, some of which are common to urinal and sheath use:
You can reduce the risk of dislodgement of the penis / disconnection of the drainage bag from the cone by careful fitting, and by securing the drainage bag and tubing with appropriate straps or a leg bag support garment (links to these products).
A drainage bag heavy with urine will pull down on the body-worn urinal if not properly supported. Try supporting the drainage bag higher on your leg (even on the thigh) for added security. Use tubing support straps to secure the drainage bag tubing close to your leg; this will reduce the risk of it getting caught or tugged and may also make it less visible under clothing.
Kinking /twisting - free flow of urine through the body-worn urinal into the drainage bag is important. If the cone or drainage bag tubing becomes kinked or twisted, urine may build up in the cone increasing the risk of leakage around the flange and dislodgement of the penis from the cone. Some cones may be more prone to this than others but it is probably important to have a cone that is the correct length for you. Also, look for drainage bags that have anti-twisting / kinking features.
Infection – Similarly to sheaths, if urine flow through the urinal into the drainage bag is impeded, urine will build up and be in prolonged contact with the skin. The result is a risk of skin infection and breakdown, and urinary tract infection. Ensuring good skin hygiene when using body worn urinals is also important for reducing the risk of infection.
Visibility under clothing - some designs of body-worn urinal may be more noticeable under clothes than other urinals, or other products. Experiment with different types of urinal and drainage bags, and ensure that the tubing to the drainage bag is well secured to the leg (this could be in several places) to reduce the risk of tubing protruding (and becoming visible) and kinking (thereby impeding urine flow).
Skin damage (trauma or allergy)2 can occur through use of body-worn urinals. This risk can be minimised by removing the urinal periodically (according to the manufacturer’s instructions) and by making sure you keep your penis skin scrupulously clean (with unscented soap and water), use the correct size product and regularly examine the skin (especially on the underside of the penis). If you know you have a latex allergy, look for non-latex urinals.
Rubbing from straps - some men find the straps that are used to secure urinals can be uncomfortable or rub the skin. Using a support garment rather than straps might be more comfortable for you and provide additional security.
Initial cost - body-worn urinals are relatively expensive to purchase. Although they can become cost effective with successful use over time, if they don’t work for you, they can be a costly mistake. Always try out a device first when possible, and take advice from specialists to avoid wasting money.
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