Common Catheter Leg Bag Problems and How to Fix Them

Urine bags are used to collect urine by attaching it to a catheter. You can choose between different styles to suit your needs, such as disposable and reusable.

Catheter leg bags can often be a life-saver for those with urinary incontinence. In general, leg bags allow freedom of movement and provide dignity. They can also be hidden under clothing and promote independence.

Man confused catheter leg bag

Do you wear a catheter leg bag? Share your experience and post on our forum.

However, there is a certain lack of research and information on catheter leg bag use. Many people have problems with managing the leg bag that can effect it's efficiency.

Read about how these common problems can be solved: 

  • The Leg Bag Has Caused Skin Damage

If you notice skin damage, you may have attached the leg bag straps too tight or too loosely. When the leg bag straps are tightly attached, they can restrict lymphatic flow, which increases the risk of vein and skin problems. Re-evaluate how tightly or loosely you are attaching the bag, and if needed, go to a professional for advice on this. Alternatively, you can switch the leg bag from one leg to the other each day, meaning it will not irritate the same spot all the time. If you have known poor circulation and are using a leg bag, you should go to a Doctor and find an alternative product. You may be able to use a leg bag sleeve rather than straps.

Man talking to Doctor about Leg Bag

  • I Have Unwanted Odour

Unwanted odour is a popular complaint amongst people with a catheter leg bag. To reduce the odour, wash your hands with soap and water. You should also disconnect the bag from the catheter tubing. Next, drain any remaining urine from the disconnected bag. You should then pour some warm soapy water into the bag. Open the drainage valve to drain the soap, and fill the bag with vinegar and water.                 

  • The Leg Bag Flips Over and Kinks the Tubing

This problem can occur if the straps are not attached to the calf or thigh using the provided straps. Ensure they are attached to the correct place and are securely attached. If you have the habit of moving your leg bag during use, try and make a conscious effort not to.         

  • My Leg Hurts as a Result of the Leg Bag

Muscle pain can often occur as a result of pulling or tugging on the bag. It is also likely that you are wearing the leg bag in the wrong position. Visiting a Nurse can solve this, as they can tell you whether you are wearing the bag the right way. They can also show you how to connect your overnight bag, as this is a common mistake.

  • I Don’t Know Where to Store my Bag

Store your leg bag in a storing container in the bathroom when it is not in use. This should also include straps and caps. To ensure good hygiene standards, place tissue or a paper towel in the bottom of the container. Ensure you change this sheet daily for cleanliness.

  •  There is No Urine Draining

This problem is common, and often occurs due to incorrect insertion of the catheter. Females should ensure that they haven't inserted the catheter into the vagina by mistake. Males on the other hand should ensure the catheter is inserted far enough the urethra. Experts recommend that there should be around 10cm of catheter visible.

This problem can also occur due to the lubricating gel blocking the drainage holes on the catheter. If you experience this problem and have discomfort, visit an emergency department close to you.

  • The Catheter has Fallen Out

Your catheter is kept in place by a balloon that is inflated with sterile water after the catheter is inserted. It is possible that the balloon can become faulty and deflate, causing the catheter to fall out. If this occurs, contact a Doctor immediately.

  • You have Severe Stomach Pains

Stomach ache can be serious, and can indicate that the catheter is irritating the bladder. If you have stomach pains while wearing a catheter, visit your Doctor for advice. They can give you tips for preventing this and on some occasions will provide you with medication.


If you notice any blood in the urine, please contact a Doctor immediately. This is not a normal side effect or common problem, and requires urgent attention. 

Recommended Urinary Incontinence Products

Attends Contours Regular
Attends Contours Regular
Attends Soft
Attends Soft

Buy Attends Contours on Incontinence Supermarket

£6.23 to £10.99 

  • Ideal for Moderate to Heavy Incontinence
  • Leakage Barriers
  • Rustle Free
  • Body Shaped for Discretion

Buy Attends Contours on Allanda 

£6.05 to £10.99

  • Ideal for Moderate to Heavy Incontinence
  • Leakage Barriers
  • Rustle Free
  • Body Shaped for Discretion

Buy Attends Soft on Incontinence Supermarket

£1.08 to £8.14 

  • Ideal for light to heavy incontinence
  • Small Discreet Inner Liner
  • Soft Textile Material
  • Up to 50% smaller than traditional incontinence products

Buy Attends Soft on Allanda

£1.07 to £8.60

  • Ideal for light to heavy incontinence
  • Small Discreet Inner Liner
  • Soft Textile Material
  • Up to 50% smaller than traditional incontinence products

Common Questions about Catheter Leg Bag Usage

  • Which Leg Bag is Suitable for Me?

Where you need to wear your bag determines the required length of your inlet tube. You can use a short tube for use on the thigh, long tube for the lower leg and an adjustable tube for extra length. 

  • How Often Should You Change the Leg Bag?

It is generally recommended that you should change the catheter bag every 5-7 days. You should bear in mind, however, that if your leg bag becomes disconnected from the catheter, you should buy a new bag immediately.

  • How Often Should I Empty the Leg Bag?

The emptying frequency is at least twice a day. You need to pay attention to when your leg bag is getting full. Specialists recommend that you empty the bag when it is half-full to prevent any risk of leakage or damage to the bag.

  • Can Leg Bags be Worn with a Skirt or Shorts?

Contrary to believe, it is possible to find a bag that can be worn with shorts or a skirt. Even if you are a frequent swimmer, there are different available to you. You can purchase a catheter valve which fits into the end of your catheter. This can be a suitable alternative for many.

  • Can I Use a Leg Bag During the Night?

Leg bags are not designed to be used when you are asleep, as urine will not properly drain into the leg bag. You can invest in a catheter night bag, which is designed to hold a normal amount of urine.

Do you wear incontinence pads or pants?Read about the hygienic disposal of incontinence products. 


Tips for Living with a Catheter

  • Drink lots of fluids. This helps prevent irritation and maintain a healthy bladder.
  • Avoid using oil based creams or talcum powder around the catheter.
  • Ensure your day and night bags stay below the level of the bladder. This prevents any urine backflow.
  • Eat plenty of fiber to avoid constipation. Constipation can often interrupt the performance of the catheter.
  • Drink cranberry juice. This is known to be effective in reducing the risk of infection and maintaining bladder health. You should do this gradually and in small doses.
man with leg bag catheter

Originally posted 2018-11-27 14:20:51.


  1. morgan jones Reply

    I have a leg bag i attach it as shown but when i move about the tube moves about and pinches my penis how do i get around this please

  2. claire brennan Reply

    my mother is 98 has a catheter fitted. The problem is when I fit a new day bag it pops out of the catheter, this also happens with the nighttime bag on occasion; yet, when the public health nurse fits it there is never a problem. Any tips on how a day bag or nighttime bag can be fitted without problems.


    1. Dave Hewitt Reply

      I have this problem too. I have searched the web with no results. It’s when I stand up from seated this occurs. I push the connection as far as it will go but still disconnects.

  3. D Davis Reply

    Cleaning a foley bag with vinegar and soapy water is simply an inadequate solution! This does not work. Until I find a better solution to the smell the bag gives off, my poor husband is trapped in the house. We can’t go anywhere with that smell. Separate bedrooms too. Not acceptable folks.
    It’s a nightmare.

    1. Linde Bremner Reply

      I have just logged on to this site. I am having the same problem with my husband. Unfortunately he has Alzeimers so is not aware of strong smell. I have contacted nurse and doctor but they say because he has no symptoms of infection they can’t do anything. The smell is very strong and is making me really upset. I am changing bag every second day but not helping either. Am at wits end. As I feel its a very personnel problem.

  4. Dennis Stambaugh Reply

    Just got a leg bag and was sitting in a cold air conditioned room and noticed a damp spot on my jeans – don’t think there is leak- could the damp spot on pants been caused by warm urine and condensation caused by the colder room temperature- therefore the dampness on my jeans?

  5. jim entwistle Reply

    I have a leg bag that leaks. I`ve noticed 3 tubescome out of the catheter, one is blocked off, the centre one is the connection that takes urine to the bag and there is another that the leak comes from.
    I might just add that this problem didnt occur whils I was in hospital, just at home. The leak doesnt come from the centre tube just the left hand one. Should that also have a stopper ?

  6. David cairns Reply

    Hi when my father is asleep his urine port comes out of the bag and leaks all over him how can he secure it better when he twists and turns

  7. Walter A Fike Reply

    I have a blister on my rubber hose right where the urine bag connects to the urine hose what is that cause from and how do I fixe it

  8. Ven doe Reply

    Hello I’m using a fake name and it will be ven short for venom and I’m a little passed no pun intended but when I got my catheter put in me no nurse or no doctor told me anything about how to maintain it like cleaning and wearing it at night and so on and I also wasn’t told how to wear it and that I can switch it from one leg to the other leg and so on like the health risks and what’s happens when urine gets on the leg and feet and which that has been happening now and don’t get me wrong but it help my life alot better until I started having leakage from the bag and it’s been irritating the skin on my legs and my feet badly my feet especially they look bad all the time because of the bag leaking and I should have been worn about that but nope not one word and so what should I do should I say something or just leave it alone and I was never told about the oder either

  9. Sammantha Edhouse Reply

    I’m having issues with my leg straps, as there rubbing and breaking the skin and also causing a rash under the strap, I have had to buy the lower leg sleeve which is great so I don’t have to wear the 2 lower straps but the thigh one which holds the tube is getting worse, how can I prevent this and is there an alternative for the thigh tubes.

  10. Joe-leaky-catheter Reply

    Catheter /leg bag connector is coming loose throughout the day resulting in urine coming straight out of the catheter onto the house carpet. Can I use a car heater hose circular connector with screw tightener to permanently connect leg bag to catheter-at least for a week -until leg bag is renewed?

    1. Peter Wookey Reply

      Joe-Leaky-Catheter, your solution will cause more problems.
      Buy a bag of small plastic ties for electric wiring, usually about 100mm long and 3mm wide.
      Pop the tie onto the catheter outlet tube and secure the bag tube, ensure the tie’s “lock” is away from your skin.
      I use them all the time for various “plumbing” needs and they do not fail.

      For people with leg bags, slid some tubigauze, finger/toe size, down the tube and fix with tape top and bottom. This will insulate the tube and stop that dreadful cold touch on your leg when you least expect it.

      For thigh straps you should be using the wide type with the catheter fixing, do not overtighten, they should not be painful, they have a “grippy” inner strip.

  11. Jacqueline Crofts Reply

    How do you keep the elastic thigh strap in place while walking.? I have to hold it up to take even a few steps. It’s fastened pretty tight. I don’t want to cut off my circulation.

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