5 min read
by Team Thinx | 04/17/2023
When you get together with your friends, there are plenty of hot topics to cover. The most tantalizing reality show moments, your newest culinary fixation, details about your last sexual encounter — the list goes on.
A topic that’s less likely to be on the agenda? Urinary incontinence.
Up to 20 million Americans suffer from involuntary bladder leakage, making it all too common and totally normal to experience. So let’s talk about it.
If you’ve ever experienced a leak in the middle of a dinner date or while you’re out for a jog wearing nothing but your leggings, there are millions of people right here with you. That's why we're here to compare the different types of incontinence supplies out there, so you can find the best incontinence product for you.
As you walk down the aisle searching for bladder control products, you might hesitate to pause directly in front of the pull-on adult diapers (lest someone see you and assume you’re buying yourself adult diapers).
But with so many other people experiencing the exact same condition, there’s no shame in your game. You should feel empowered that you’re taking action to improve your everyday life.
And once you understand each type of incontinence product available, you can confidently strut directly to the bladder control section and grab the exact product you want knowing you found precisely what you needed.
Without further ado, here are some of the most common types of incontinence products available, starting with items used for lighter absorbency and working toward products that absorb heavier leaks.
If you’re familiar with menstrual pads for your period, then you’ll quickly grasp the concept of incontinence pads. In essence, they work the same way: they contain an adhesive on the underside that you stick directly to the liner of your underwear.
Once they’re attached to your undies, they provide support by collecting urine throughout the day. Like diapers, they often contain a hydrophobic layer that keeps liquid away from the surface of the incontinence pad so you don’t notice much (if any) wetness.
In addition to pads, guards and shields are also available. The concept is the same as the incontinence pad, but with slight nuances, like:
Incontinence shields offer light absorbency for small leaks and dribbles.
Guards are thicker and can absorb heavier flows of urine.
If you decide that incontinence pads are the right product for you, choose pads made specifically for urine leaks rather than pads you use during your period. Incontinence pads hold more liquid and absorb it more quickly than ordinary pads. Many of them also offer odor control.
Reusable underwear allows you to experience peace of mind from leaks while also cutting down on your single-use plastic waste. They provide light to moderate absorbency and allow you to wear real, comfortable underwear that aims to absorb any leaks you experience throughout the day.
If discreetness is important to you, reusable undies might be your ideal match. They look and feel like real underwear, with chic styles that may even resemble what you already have in your underwear drawer.
Otherwise known as pull-on diapers, briefs can hold anywhere from light to heavy bladder leaks. They come in different absorbency levels to meet your needs, such as:
Maximum (best for overnight use)
Incontinence briefs are comfortable and provide a modern design that looks and feels similar to real underwear. You can sport them under your favorite dress or with a pair of slacks and be assured that you look as great as you feel.
If you’re experiencing more than the occasional leak, diaper briefs with tabs may be the way to go. They include tear-away sides that make them easy to remove, which is ideal for individuals who find it challenging to step out of them.
Like pull-on incontinence briefs, they come in various absorbency levels but provide even more protection against heavy incontinence.
While it’s helpful to have a better idea of what each incontinence product is, you can narrow down the best incontinence product for you by comparing their pros and cons:
Incontinence pads are the go-to choice for many individuals who deal with small, occasional bladder leaks. If you’re on the fence regarding whether they’re the right fit for you, here are some of their advantages and disadvantages:
Pro: They’re discreet. They’re designed to fit comfortably and covertly in most styles of undies.
Pro: They’re more absorbent than ordinary pads. They’re often made with special gels that absorb liquids so you don’t feel any dampness after a leak.
Con: They’re not ideal for heavy incontinence. They’re not as padded as other incontinence supplies, so they’re not usually the best contenders to absorb heavy flows of urine.
Con: They might not stay put. Like traditional pads, they might stray from their original position, causing an impromptu trip to the bathroom to rearrange their location. If they veer off course, they may also cause unexpected leakage.
To opt for reusable undies or not — that is the question. Let’s end the debate by reviewing some of the pros and cons of reusable incontinence underwear:
Pro: They’re a less expensive investment. They may have a slightly higher price tag during your original purchase, but they’re much more cost-effective in the long run. They're designed to be washed and reused over and over, while also helping cut down on your trips to the store to shell out money on disposable pads or briefs.
Pro: They’re more environmentally friendly. Gone are the days of adding 365 (or more) pads or diapers to the world’s landfills. Instead, you can wash your reusable undies, hang them to dry, and wear them on repeat.
Pro: They’re comfy like regular underwear. It should come as no surprise that reusable underwear feel like your favorite pair of undies — because they are real undies. You can stay dry and wear your comfy hip-hugging incontinence underwear without the bunchy discomfort of disposables.
Con: They’re not ideal for heavy urine output. They usually hold moderate levels of urine, so if you’re prone to heavy incontinence, you might experience leaks or need to change into a new pair throughout the day.
If the idea of briefs tickles your fancy, here’s the lowdown when it comes to briefs:
Pro: They offer the flexibility of underwear. Because of their flexible flaps and stretchy material, pull-up briefs often allow you to feel like you’re wearing a pair of underwear.
Pro: They’re ideal for overnight use. If your incontinence is worse at night, they provide an excellent level of absorption for heavier leaks.
Con: Sizing between brands is unreliable. While you might be a size large in one brand, you could be a medium or extra large in another. If you end up with briefs that are too large, they could leak. If you wear some that are too small, they may tear at the sides.
Con: They’re expensive. After a few purchases, you’ll start to realize that the cost of briefs begins to add up more than many other types of incontinence products.
Last but not least, we have possibly the most absorbent incontinence product of them all. If you’re thinking about giving these bad boys a spin, here’s everything you need to know:
Pro: They’re easily adjustable. With tabs, you can conveniently adjust them to make them slightly larger or smaller until they fit you like a diaper-inspired glove.
Pro: They’re easy to take on and off. Whether the person wearing them has a hard time taking them off on their own or a caretaker puts them on and removes them for the wearer, they’re ideal for people who need assistance.
Con: They can feel too padded. Some people feel like they’re too similar to a diaper because they feel and look bulkier than other adult incontinence products.
Con: The elastic sides aren’t always reliable. Sometimes briefs with tabs tear at the sides, or the adhesive stops working mid-use. If this occurs frequently, you’ll be changing them more often and therefore spending more money.
With so many options to choose from, you might feel like closing your eyes, pointing at the screen, and choosing whatever option your finger falls on. But if you’re experiencing light to moderate bladder leaks, Thinx for All Leaks reusable underwear is a game changer worth considering.
Thinx for All Leaks was created with you in mind: they absorb liquid, control odors, and have a breathable moisture barrier that keeps you feeling fresh and dry.
Whether you’re dealing with postpartum bladder leaks, you’re worried about a surprise trickle during your barre class, or you’re just not sure when an accident might happen, Thinx has you covered.
At Thinx, we strive to provide our readers with the most up-to-date, objective, and research-based information. Our content is crafted by experienced contributors who ground their work in research and data. Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked within the text or listed at the bottom to lead readers to the original source.
Mayo Clinic. Is Urine Incontinence Normal for Women? https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/is-urine-incontinence-normal-for-women
NHS. Incontinence Products.https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/urinary-incontinence/incontinence-products/
by Team Thinx