Urinary wicking devices now have options for both sleeping and daytime activities.

Wicking is the act of absorbing or drawing liquid away. Urinary wicking devices are medical devices that help people experiencing incontinence manage their condition.

Urinary wicking devices can be worn directly against the body. This allows them to be discreet.

Medicare and other insurance plans cover many of these devices. Keep reading to learn more.

A urinary wicking device is any device that collects urine through absorption or suction. They are less invasive than options such as indwelling, or internal, catheters. Urinary wicking devices also allow for more independence and movement than options such as bedpans.

Urinary wicking devices work on the outside of the body but sit over or very close to the penis or vulva. This allows them to absorb and collect urine and prevents leaks.

Some wicking devices collect urine in bags and containers you can empty, while others use absorbent and washable fabric.

People experiencing incontinence can use many wicking devices while working, traveling, shopping, or doing other everyday activities.

Other wicking devices allow people to sleep through the night without the interruptions that options such as bedpans cause.

Wicking devices offer both benefits and drawbacks.

Some benefits and drawbacks are tied to specific wicking products. For instance, urinary wicking underwear is machine washable and looks like traditional underwear, but wicking underwear options for males are limited.

Similarly, external catheters are more comfortable and convenient than internal catheters but can lead to skin irritation and urine leakage.

Additional benefits and drawbacks include:

Pros of using a urinary wicking device

  • less damage to the urethra than internal catheters
  • urine wicking underwear can also absorb sweat and menstrual blood
  • wicking products do not require the assistance of medical professionals
  • many cost-effective options available

Cons of using a urinary wicking device

  • can be difficult to change and handle on your own
  • often need care, cleaning, and eventual replacement
  • insurance might not cover some options
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You have options for urinary wicking devices.

External catheters

One of the most common options is an external catheter. External catheters are also called condom catheters and penile sheath catheters.

These urine wicks fit over the penis or vulva and have a tube that runs to a collection bag. The collection bag is emptied each time it’s filled.

You can choose from latex or silicone condom catheters. Options both with and without adhesive are available.

Urinary wicking underwear

Urinary wicking underwear is another option. This product is discreet and often looks exactly like standard underwear.

Urinary wicking underwear is machine washable. You can wash it with the rest of your laundry and re-wear it, just like any other pair of underwear.

Several companies offer urinary wicking underwear, including those specializing in menstrual or incontinence products.

PureWick system

A newer option for urine wicking called the PureWick system is designed to wick urine while sleeping or resting.

The system collects urine with an external catheter that runs from the vulva to the buttocks. The catheter connects to a tube that leads to a collection tub that can rest on a nightstand or table.

The system can help prevent overnight leaking and skin breakdown.

There is currently no version of the PureWick system to wick urine from penises. The system cannot be used while walking.

What’s the best urine wicking tech in 2023?

Advancements such as urinary wicking underwear and the PureWick system are helping people experiencing incontinence by avoiding internal catheters.

Today’s urinary wicking underwear is available in many styles and absorbency strengths. You can find patterns and cuts that fit your personal style and health needs.

The PureWick system has also earned praise from healthcare professionals, caregivers, and users for its innovation. Hospitals, nursing care facilities, and other healthcare centers use this system.

The PureWick system is helping provide better sleep to users. It can also reduce leakage, avoid the need for internal catheters, and prevent skin breakdown.

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Insurance plans and Medicare cover many urinary wicking devices.

Medicare covers 80% of the cost of home medical supplies such as urinary wicking products. You’ll be responsible for the remaining 20%. Your costs with other insurance companies depend on your plan.

For coverage, you need to have your doctor order the products, and they need to be deemed “medically necessary” to help manage chronic bladder difficulties.

Additionally, costs can vary depending on the product you’re interested in. For example, while Medicare and other insurance plans typically cover external catheters, including the PureWick system, urinary wicking underwear is not covered.

However, if you have a healthcare savings account (HSA) or a flexible spending account (FSA), you might be able to use those funds on urinary wicking underwear.

Urinary wicking devices are an option for people experiencing incontinence. They can help avoid invasive internal urinary catheters. They are also more discreet and convenient than options such as bedpans.

These devices can help people who use them maintain independence, avoid skin breakdown, and prevent damage to the urethra.

There are several options for urinary wicking, including external catheters that fit over the penis or vulva and urine wicking underwear you can wash and re-wear.

Medicare and other insurance plans often cover these devices. When they’re not covered, you might be able to use HSA or FSA dollars to cover the costs.