Reasons men might use a urinary catheter include urinary incontinence, urinary retention and a lack of being able to control urination, explains Healthline. Potential causes for urinary retention are impaired mental functioning, blocked urine flow, medications, spinal cord injury and surgery.
Bladder and kidney stones, severe enlargement of the prostate gland, and blood clots in the urine can reduce or eliminate the flow of urine, according to Healthline. When this happens, doctors may recommend a catheter because not emptying the bladder can lead to the build-up of urine. When urine builds up, it puts pressure on the kidneys, and that pressure can result in permanent kidney damage.
Surgery on the prostate gland or genital area, such as hip fracture repair, may also reduce the flow of urine, notes Healthline. Medicine that restricts the ability of bladder muscles to squeeze can also lead to this condition, while disorders such as dementia that impair mental functioning can also reduce a person's ability to urinate.
There are three primary types of catheters: indwelling, external and intermittent, reports Healthline. By inserting a catheter through a small incision in the abdomen or urethra, doctors inflate a small balloon at the end to prevent the catheter from dislodging.
For men with severe mental or functional disabilities, doctors often suggest external catheters, according to Healthline. Similar in appearance to a condom, it fits over the tip of a man's penis with a tube that leads from the device to an drainage bag.