External Devices in Women

Given that women do not have a penis that can hold a collection device, it takes more imagination to devise a suitable one. At the present time, there are number of commercially available products which claim to work well, but so far as we can see, none is nearly as good as we would like. If you use pads or diapers, you can experiment and improvise, but you can’t do that very well with the external devices for women. They either work or they don’t. There are two general kinds of devices of which we are aware – adhesive patches and urethral inserts. An adhesive patch is made of a soft, plastic like material which is placed over the urethral opening (meatus) to block the urine from leaking out. Some products are little more than a piece of clear plastic tape. A urethral insert or stent is a small tube that is inserted into the urethra to block the flow of urine. It is usually held in place either by a little balloon inside the bladder or by a flange that collapses as it is pulled out. The problem with most of these devices is that they have to be changed or re-inserted each time you urinate. That can be expensive and it can be uncomfortable. Further, if they are not changed often enough they can cause urinary tract infection and even stones. Further, the long term consequences of these devices are unknown. Other products are being tested which are actually urethral stents with miniature valves inside. They stay in place in the urethra for about a month at a time. The valve is supposed to keep urine from leaking out, like a sphincter. It is opened with a magnetic or battery operated hand held activator when you want to urinate. When you’re done urinating, you close it with the activator.


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