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Urinary incontinence products - self-care

Adult diapers; Disposable urinary collection devices

If you have problems with urinary incontinence (leakage), wearing special products will keep you dry and help you avoid embarrassing situations.

 

Choosing the Right Product

First, talk with your health care provider to make sure the cause of your leakage cannot be treated.

If you have urine leakage, you can buy many types of urinary incontinence products. These products help keep your skin dry and prevent skin rashes and sores.

Ask your provider which product might be best for you. It depends on how much leakage you have and when it happens. You might also be concerned about cost, odor control, comfort, and how easy the product is to use.

You can always try another product if the one you are using is uncomfortable or does not keep you dry enough.

Your provider might ask you to drink less fluid throughout the day to cut down on leakage. Your provider may also recommend using the bathroom at regular, set times to help avoid accidents. Keeping a journal about when you have leakage problems can help your provider treat you.

Products for Men and Women

You can wear disposable pads in your underwear. They have a waterproof backing that keeps your clothes from getting wet. Common brands are:

  • Attends
  • Abena
  • Depends
  • Poise
  • Reassure
  • Serenity
  • Tena
  • Tranquility
  • Many different store brands

Always change your pad or underwear regularly, even if you are dry. Changing often will keep your skin healthy. Set aside time to change 2 to 4 times a day at the same times every day.

Adult Diapers and Underwear

You can use adult diapers if you are leaking large amounts of urine. You can buy the kind that you use once and throw away, or ones that you can wash and reuse. They come in different sizes. Wear a size that fits you snugly. Some have elastic around the legs to keep from leaking onto your clothes. Some come with a plastic cover for more protection.

Special, washable underwear are also available. These look more like regular underwear than adult diapers. Some have a waterproof crotch area and room for a pad or liner. Some are made out of a special waterproof fabric that keeps your skin dry. You do not need a pad with these.

Waterproof outer pants made of nylon, vinyl, or rubber are also available. They can be worn over your underwear.

Special Products for Men

Men can use a drip collector for small amounts of urine leakage. This is a small pocket that fits over the penis. Wear close-fitting underwear to keep it in place.

Men can also use a condom catheter device. It fits over the penis like a condom. A tube carries the urine that collects in it to a bag attached to the leg. This helps to prevent odor and skin problems.

Special Products for Women

Women can try different products, depending on the cause for their urine leakage. External devices include:

  • Foam pads that are very small and fit between your labia. You take the pad out when you need to urinate, and then put a new one in. Common brands are Miniguard, UroMed, Impress, and Softpatch.
  • A urethra cap is a silicone cap, or shield that fits in place over your urinary opening. It can be washed and used again. Common brands are CapSure and FemAssist.

Internal devices to prevent urine leakage include:

  • A single-use plastic shaft that can be inserted into your urethra (hole where urine comes out) and has a balloon on one end and a tab on the other. It is only for single, short-term use and needs to be removed to urinate. Common brands are Reliance and FemSoft.
  • A pessary is a round latex or silicone disk that is inserted into your vagina to provide bladder support. It needs to be removed and washed on a regular basis. It must be fitted and prescribed by your primary care provider.

Products to Protect Your Furniture

You can buy special waterproof pads to put under your sheets and on your chairs. Sometimes these are called Chux or blue pads. Some pads are washable and can be reused. Others you use once and throw away.

You can also create your own pad from a vinyl tablecloth or shower curtain lining.

Where to Buy Products

Many of these products are available over-the-counter (without a prescription) at your local drugstore or supermarket. You might have to check a medical supply store or search online for some products.

Remember, washable items may help save money.

Your insurance may pay for your pads and other incontinence supplies if you have prescription from your provider. Check with your insurance company to find out.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your health care provider if:

  • You are not sure how to use your product.
  • You are not staying dry.
  • You develop a skin rash or sores.
  • You have signs of infection (a burning sensation when you urinate, fever, or chills).

References

Boone TB, Stewart JN. Additional therapies for storage and emptying failure. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Partin AW, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 87.

Newman DK, Burgio KL. Conservative management of urinary incontinence: behavioral and pelvic floor therapy and urethral and pelvic devices. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Partin AW, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 80.

Solomon ER, Sultana CJ. Bladder drainage and urinary protective methods. In: Walters MD, Karram MM, eds. Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 43.

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    • Urinary incontinence

      Animation

    •  

      Urinary incontinence - Animation

      When you enter a store or restaurant, are you often looking to find the establishments bathroom? If you're having trouble holding in your urine, or if you often leak urine, you probably have what's called urinary incontinence. Normally, the bladder begins to fill with urine from the kidneys. The bladder stretches to allow more and more urine. You should feel the first urge to urinate when there is about 200 mL, just under 1 cup of urine stored in your bladder. A healthy nervous system will respond to this stretching sensation by letting you know that you have to urinate. But, at the same time, the bladder should keep filling. But the system doesn't work correctly in people with urinary incontinence. Some people with urinary incontinence leak urine during activities like coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercise. This is called stress incontinence. When you have a sudden, strong need to urinate, but can't make it to the bathroom before you do urinate, it's called urge incontinence. Other people have what's called overflow incontinence, when the bladder cannot empty and they dribble. Urinary incontinence can have many causes, and it's most common in older adults. Women are more likely than men to have it. For some people the bladder muscle is overactive. For others, the muscles holding the urine in are weak. And for others, the problem is sensing when the bladder is full. They might have brain or nerve problems, dementia or other health problems that make it hard to feel and respond to the urge to urinate, or problems with the urinary system itself. To treat urinary incontinence, your doctor can help you form a treatment plan. Most likely, exercises to strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor will be part of that plan. Bladder training exercises can also be effective. And depending on the cause of incontinence, oral medications, or topical estrogen may be helpful. If you have overflow incontinence and cannot empty your bladder completely, you may need to use a catheter. Your doctor can recommend the best catheter for you. For urine leaks, you might wear absorbent pads or undergarments. Whatever else you try, lifestyle changes may help. Aim for an ideal weight. Losing excess weight and increasing exercise both often improve incontinence, especially in women. Also, some specific beverages and foods might increase leaking in some people. For instance, you might try eliminating alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages, even decaf coffee. Drink plenty of water, but do NOT drink anything 2 to 4 hours before going to bed. Be sure to empty your bladder before going to bed to help prevent urine leakage at night. Throughout the day, urinate at set times, even if you do not feel the urge. Schedule yourself every 3 to 4 hours. Urinary incontinence is very common, but many people never talk to their doctor about it. Don't let that be you. See your doctor and bring it up at your next doctor's visit.

    • Urinary incontinence

      Animation

    •  

      Urinary incontinence - Animation

      When you enter a store or restaurant, are you often looking to find the establishments bathroom? If you're having trouble holding in your urine, or if you often leak urine, you probably have what's called urinary incontinence. Normally, the bladder begins to fill with urine from the kidneys. The bladder stretches to allow more and more urine. You should feel the first urge to urinate when there is about 200 mL, just under 1 cup of urine stored in your bladder. A healthy nervous system will respond to this stretching sensation by letting you know that you have to urinate. But, at the same time, the bladder should keep filling. But the system doesn't work correctly in people with urinary incontinence. Some people with urinary incontinence leak urine during activities like coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercise. This is called stress incontinence. When you have a sudden, strong need to urinate, but can't make it to the bathroom before you do urinate, it's called urge incontinence. Other people have what's called overflow incontinence, when the bladder cannot empty and they dribble. Urinary incontinence can have many causes, and it's most common in older adults. Women are more likely than men to have it. For some people the bladder muscle is overactive. For others, the muscles holding the urine in are weak. And for others, the problem is sensing when the bladder is full. They might have brain or nerve problems, dementia or other health problems that make it hard to feel and respond to the urge to urinate, or problems with the urinary system itself. To treat urinary incontinence, your doctor can help you form a treatment plan. Most likely, exercises to strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor will be part of that plan. Bladder training exercises can also be effective. And depending on the cause of incontinence, oral medications, or topical estrogen may be helpful. If you have overflow incontinence and cannot empty your bladder completely, you may need to use a catheter. Your doctor can recommend the best catheter for you. For urine leaks, you might wear absorbent pads or undergarments. Whatever else you try, lifestyle changes may help. Aim for an ideal weight. Losing excess weight and increasing exercise both often improve incontinence, especially in women. Also, some specific beverages and foods might increase leaking in some people. For instance, you might try eliminating alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages, even decaf coffee. Drink plenty of water, but do NOT drink anything 2 to 4 hours before going to bed. Be sure to empty your bladder before going to bed to help prevent urine leakage at night. Throughout the day, urinate at set times, even if you do not feel the urge. Schedule yourself every 3 to 4 hours. Urinary incontinence is very common, but many people never talk to their doctor about it. Don't let that be you. See your doctor and bring it up at your next doctor's visit.

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      Review Date: 1/31/2019

      Reviewed By: Sovrin M. Shah, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Urology, The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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