The most common type of incontinence for both men and women is known as stress incontinence. This is the extra urine that leaks from the bladder when people cough, sneeze, or laugh. It is very common for women to deal with this issue as they experience menopause, especially if they have given birth (which stretches out the pelvic floor muscles). People dealing with incontinence issues often have health issues such as arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart conditions, urinary tract infections, or prostate cancer.
If you or your loved one is suffering from minor leakage, pads or liners may be the solution. These come tailored for both men (male guards) or women (female incontinence pads). They are similar in size and shape to female menstruation pads, but they differ in absorbency. (Menstrual pads are designed for a slower flow of thicker liquid.) An adhesive backing allows them to be fastened to your regular underwear and they are less expensive and smaller than full garments.
These are similar to large pads, the difference being that they are worn with a belt. The pad runs from front waist to back waist, in between the legs, and is held in place by elastic belts on each side. The belt is fastened to the pad with buttons, a hook, or loop fasteners. These are best used for light to moderate urinary incontinence and light bowel incontinence. A downside would be that the belt can be unwieldy or less comfortable than other styles of incontinence underwear.
These are the same as the adult nappies described above, differing only in that they are stuck in the underwear as opposed to held up by a belt. An adhesive strip keeps them in place. These are good for overflow incontinence, heavier stress or light bowel incontinence.
Briefs can be either adjustable or pull-up style. They have a cloth-like or plastic waterproof outer barrier in addition to an absorbent inner material (generally consisting of cellulose fluff and super absorbent polymers). All of these styles have elastic at the waist and legs to ensure a snug and leak-averse fit. These work well for a broad swath of incontinence issues.
This type of brief has tabs on the sides that allow it to be removed in two different ways: by pulling on or off like underwear, or opened flat and pulled up between the legs, fastened by the tabs. The benefits include being able to change it without removing the pants and shoes (helpful for both caregivers and for people who are out and about). This style of incontinence underwear can come in both refastenable and non-refastenable versions. In the refastenable versions, tabs can be unfastened and refastened repeatedly, versus just once for the non-refastenable kind. The former is also generally higher quality and more expensive.
These incontinence pants are very similar to regular underwear that the user pulls on and off to use the bathroom. There are no tabs, as in the adjustable underwear discussed above. These are ideal for issues ranging from light incontinence all the way up to bladder control loss and/or heavy bowel leakage. The sides are generally made of a stretchy, breathable, non-absorbent material for air circulation and comfort. A benefit of wearing these is that they feel like traditional underwear; a downside is that they require removal of shoes and pants to change, so they are not for everyone.
Both adjustable and pull-up style briefs come in cloth-type backing or plastic. Plastic backing used to be more common, but these styles are generally noisier. Cloth-like backing is more popular these days, but preference depends on the wearer. Youll also want to consider your absorbency needs. Briefs come in overnight versions (the most absorbent, usually bulkier, mostly for night use unless the person is very incontinent), or day options (sometimes labeled light, moderate, or heavy). If the wearer is plus-sized, look for a bariatric version of adult nappy, as these can come in up to a 94 inch waist.
You may also want to consider reusable incontinence underwear. Similar to cloth diapers, these products are better for the environment, but require washing and therefore can be a hassle. The light versions of these products are basically a pair of underwear with a pad inside, but they come in different absorbency levels. They will cost more upfront, but the overall investment will be cheaper in the long run when compared to purchasing disposable incontinence pants. These styles have less ability to keep a wearers skin dry, which can be an issue if the incontinence sufferer has a skin condition or sensitive skin.
Pad and Pant System
This is a type of hybrid product between protective and beltless undergarments. It consists of a pair of knit stretch or mesh pants that are pulled on over a large pad. (The pad is that same size and shape as those inside a standard adult nappy.) The pads come in a variety of absorbency levels, from light leakage all the way up to complete bowel incontinence. A concern with these is that the pads tend to shift around and bunch up, so they are not ideal for highly mobile/active people.
An Investment in Comfort and Wellbeing
Whatever incontinence pants you choose, you are putting money towards the health and mobility of you or your loved one. With such a vast selection available to the modern consumer, you are sure to find a good match for your needs. Do your research, try out a few options, and begin to see the life changing difference adult diapers can make.