For Men: Penile Compression Devices
Penile compression devices (ie, clamps) were first described in the 1600s, about the same time a male glass urinal also was described in German medical texts. Penile compression devices prevent male urine leakage by placing enough pressure on the male urethra to prevent urine from leaking out. Most often they are used after a prostatectomy.
Today, many slightly different shapes and styles of clamps are available, including oval, rectangular, and inflatable or static, with some models available in a range of sizes (see Figure 1). A newly designed cuff is adjustable and prevents impedance to penile blood flow. Another cuff has an absorbent pad attached. The basic style has a cushioned inside and a hinged closure. Men may need to try different styles to see which design best suits them, is the easiest to close and open, and is the most comfortable. Some men find they still need a small pad inside their underwear when wearing the clamp, just to catch sneaky leaks.
Penile compression devices are mostly sold through online retailers or from the manufacturer’s website. These sources should provide the person looking to purchase a device with information on measuring to ensure the correct size is purchased. Nurses providing clamps to patients should provide instructions on proper use/clamping to avoid clinical and legal repercussions of improper use of the device.
Penile compression devices serve a genuine need for men seeking:
- A comfortable alternative to a pad or diaper-like product;
- A way to prevent leakage for a short and specific amount of time (eg, swimming, going out to a restaurant, attending a special event);
- A management solution for stress urinary incontinence; or
- Overall leakage prevention, which is critical to their lifestyle.
Men who have post-prostatectomy leakage are often particularly well-suited for these devices. However, this product is not suited for the men who:
- Lack good manual dexterity (unless they have a reliable caregiver willing to help);
- Have poor memory or mental function because they could easily forget to remove it after a safe amount of time (unless they have a reliable caregiver willing to help);
- Have skin that may easily become damaged;
- Lack bladder sensation;
- Have retention with overflow incontinence; or
- Have urgency or urgency with incontinence.
Patients must exercise great care when using this product; they need to completely understand this is not an around-the-clock management device and that it should be removed/unclamped for 4-hour intervals at a minimum. The device should not be worn at night in bed. If used constantly or for long periods of time, the clamp may cause serious complications, such as pain, urethral erosion, obstruction, and edema. Used properly and for short intervals such as a movie, dinner out, or a picnic, this device will help keep the wearer dry and with no fear of an accident.