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Tips & Advice: Choosing Disposable Incontinence Products

The number of disposable incontinence products that are now available is mind boggling. We encourage you to try out different styles and sizes before making your choice. We understand that choosing the right product for your specific needs is important and should take into account these characteristics:

Level of absorbency

This means the amount of urine that is absorbed without leaking. With the wicking type of polymers that are used in the current incontinence products, this also means that this amount of urine is trapped and will not be released if you sit or lie on the product.

Complete or partial bladder emptying

Having a rapid flood of a large amount of urine may necessitate using a fuller protective product, such as the protective underwear or briefs. These products also protect against stool incontinence. A constant leaking or partial bladder emptying, such as with stress incontinence, may allow you to choose a smaller product, such as pads or guards, which adhere to your current underwear, or a pad and pants system, which are specially designed to hold a pad and have a waterproof crotch.

Frequency of changes

The frequency in which your disposable product is changed may influence your selection. If you plan to change every few hours, a product with less absorbency and a smaller, more discreet appearance may be what you need. If you plan to change every 6-8 hours, or go all night, a larger, more absorbent product is necessary. A booster pad provides added absorbency to the product you're already wearing. Some persons choose to have a couple of products on hand, one for daytime and one for nighttime use.

Intermittent or constant need

Intermittent use, such as times where you will have limited access to a bathroom, are exercising, or are in awkward social situations, may necessitate looking at the ease at which the product is applied. For example, the slip-on beltless undergarments can provide a large amount of absorbency without removing your clothing to put them on. The pads, guards and pad and pant systems also allow for application without removing any outer garments.

Activity level

Someone who is ambulatory and moving about most of the time should be more concerned with having a product with elasticized leg openings that conform to the body. This prevents leakage from the sides of the product when changing position. If most of the day is spent in bed or with little activity, leaking with movement may not be such a consideration.

Changing product when sitting, standing, or lying

Disposable briefs, or adult diapers, provide for large amount of absorbency, but are usually changed while lying down. Refastenable Velcro tabs are helpful if you plan on repositioning or removing and replacing the same undergarment. Protective underwear slip up and down like regular underwear. The pads, guards and belted undergarments can easily be changed in the standing position.

Manual dexterity

The level of assistance required with dressing and positioning a protective undergarment may influence your product selection. For example, if buttoning is difficult, a Velcro type belted undergarment would be preferable to a button fastener. If bending to pull on pants is difficult, a disposable brief with side tabs is better.


When assessing the overall cost of the product, you must take into consideration the frequency of changes (the number of products you must use each day), as well as possibly combining some reusable products with the disposables. In some cases, using a more expensive but more absorbent product that doesn't need to be changed as frequently will save money. Reusable and machine washable waterproof, absorbent underwear can be used to preserve the environment, while cutting costs.


There is a disposable product to fit every size and shape but it may take some experimenting to find what works best for you. For very small or very large individuals, the selection is slightly more limited but is available.


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