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Learn About Absorbent Products For Bladder Leakage | NAFC

Learn about the wide range of absorbent products available to manage your incontinence and #bladderleakage and why form, fit and function is so important.

Adult ABSORBENT Products

When it comes to managing incontinence, whether it’s an occasional leak or something more serious, there has never been a better time to find effective solutions. That’s especially true when it comes to choosing an absorbent product.

The range of items available today is remarkable – so remarkable, in fact, that it can be confusing to find something that suits your symptoms and your budget. Do you choose pads or protective underwear or something else entirely? What sort of absorbency makes sense? What size do you look for? In addition to how the product works, there are other important considerations like comfort, mobility, and ease of use. The choices can be overwhelming.

In fact, it has been estimated that as many as 80% of people experiencing adult incontinence are using the wrong products – and many people try seven or more different products until they find one that works.

Rest assured, there is a product out there that’s right for you, and it doesn’t have to take a dozen tries to find it. This guide is intended to help you understand the range of options that are available and guide you toward a product that can make a meaningful difference in your life.

What To Look For When Buying An Adult Absorbent Product

When choosing an absorbent product, the most important things to keep in mind are the Three F’s: Form, Fit, and Function.

 Form

Styles and features can vary greatly from product to product, so it’s important to think about your lifestyle and your needs to ensure that you’re making a smart choice.  Are you active or mobile? Do you prefer products with tab closures or do you want something that more resembles underwear? Your answers to when, where, and how you will use the product will help you narrow down your options.

Prevail Perf-Fit 360

Prevail Perf-Fit 360

  • Product Styles – There’s a large range of product styles to choose from: pads, liners, male guards, belted undergarments, pant systems, pull-up underwear, adult diapers/tabbed briefs, boosters, and more. Don’t be overwhelmed by all of these choices – having this many categories means that there’s almost certainly something available that can really help you stay dry.  
  • Product Features – Forget one-size-fits-all products – today’s manufacturers have made enormous progress producing absorbents that can accommodate a whole range of symptoms and sizes. Nowadays, you can choose products that vary by absorption speed and total volume, products that offer odor protection and maximum breathability for skin health and comfort, others that have varying waist heights and multiple sizes of leg openings, and so much more.  You can be confident that these features will help protect you and keep you comfortable.

Fit

Fit may be the single most important factor when it comes to selecting an absorbent, so make sure to choose a size that fits your body type. Here are some of the most important things to consider:

  • You – Nobody knows your body better than you do, and that means you already have most of the information you need to choose wisely. Some of the main things to keep in mind:
    • Your waist or hip size
    • Your incontinence severity (a trickle, full bladder loss, fecal loss, etc.)
    • Your activity level or mobility issues
    • How discreet you want to be
  • Product Sizes - Though most manufacturers use the traditional XS, Small, Medium, Large, and XL sizes, they all use different measurements to determine what those sizes are. This can mean that finding the right fit may take some trial and error. Calling an incontinence supplier can help you with this process, reducing some of the uncertainty in sizing. There are also helpful tools like sizing charts that ask your height and weight and will give you a good place to start.

Function

All incontinence products are not created equal. Some are used for daytime, while others are specifically designed for nighttime. Some account for heavy leakage, while others are made for those who leak just a little. Think about your specific condition and needs, and look for a product best suited for that.

No matter what you choose, be sure to look for absorbent products that wick moisture away from the body to promote skin health. Also make sure to select products that are specifically designed for urinary incontinence, instead of feminine hygiene pads, because they have super absorbent polymers that trap urine and expand by as much as 20 times for maximum absorbency.  (Click here to read our blog about why using a maxi pad for incontinence is not a good choice.)

  • Protection Levels - How often do you leak? Is your leakage heavy or light? Knowing the level of leakage is important when choosing a product, since many products vary in their protection level. You’ll see terms like Super Plus, Extra, Premium, Maximum, Moderate, Regular, Advanced and Ultimate, but what those words specifically mean may vary from company to company. There is no official standard when it comes to describing the level of protection a product provides, so read labels carefully and be open to trying different products or absorption levels if you’re not satisfied with the results you’re getting.
  • Product Brands - There are a lot of options for products when it comes to incontinence – absorbency, size, product type, amount of leakage, length of use, and more. It can be overwhelming to the new, or even experienced, user or caregiver to choose the correct product to use. That’s why its important to choose a brand you trust–one that is driven by thoughtful innovation, and produces products tailored to your needs, no matter what they may be. Prevail® is the #1 ranked adult incontinence brand in healthcare. You can count on Prevail Underwear to keep you 5X drier, and Prevail Bladder Control Pads to lock in 20% more wetness–than leading advertised brands.

Many people are also familiar with the nationally advertised retail brands, such as Attends, TENA, Depends, and Poise. But there are other highly regarded brands that might be right for you that are not nationally recognized names. And consider contacting a knowledgeable, reputable, quality online retailer like LiveANew to find just the right product for you or a loved one.


Types Of Absorbent Products

Reusable Products

Washable & reusable incontinence products for adults are typically made of cotton or a blend of polyester and nylon. These products are sold in the form of reusable bladder control pads, gender specific underwear, or adult cloth diapers. These reusable adult incontinence products are generally used to manage moderate to urinary or fecal incontinence. These products are not widely distributed, but can be purchased online or in medical supply stores.

Disposable Products

As the name implies, these are intended as single-use products. The majority of absorbent products on the market are disposable, and although they may be more expensive than reusable items on a per-piece basis, the convenience can’t be beat.

Bladder Control Pad

Bladder Control Pad

  • Liners – Generally used for very light or light urinary incontinence, these one-size-fits-all items are designed to be worn with regular underwear.  
  • Bladder Control Pads – For light to heavy urinary incontinence, these are designed to provide comfort, fit and discretion. Pads are available in a variety of thicknesses and absorbency levels, and they can be worn with regular underwear or reusable briefs.
  • Male Shield – For light to moderate urinary incontinence, these products are designed for use with stretch mesh briefs or close-fitting underwear. The shield adheres to the front of underwear, guarding against light bladder leakage.
  • Male Guard – For light to moderate urinary incontinence, these are elasticized pouches that provide a cup-like fit for protection and comfort. They’re held in place by an adhesive strip and worn with close-fitting underwear. They may have foam backing for extra protection.
  • Belted Undergarments – For light to moderate urinary incontinence. The term "undergarment" originally referred to an absorbent product held in place by reusable, sometimes washable, straps. The straps are usually held in place with buttons, snaps, or Velcro.
  • Fitted Brief with Elastic Legs – For moderate to heavy urinary incontinence, this one-piece garment is designed with elastic at the waist and legs for a close fit and prevention of leakage. For day and night use.
  • Unisex Protective Underwear – For moderate urinary incontinence. Convenience is the name of the game with this one-piece, underwear-like design that pulls up and down easily. They’re made with cloth-like material and feature soft elastics.
  • Gender Specific Protective Underwear – For moderate urinary incontinence. Different body shapes have different needs. Protective Underwear for Women are often form-fitting and offered in feminine colors. Protective Underwear for Men often have a branded, elastic waistband making them feel more like real underwear.
Men's Underwear

Men's Underwear

Women's Underwear

Women's Underwear

  • Pad and Pants System – For moderate to heavy urinary incontinence. This form of incontinence products combine a disposable pad with washable, reusable underwear or pants made of cotton or a cotton/polyester blend.
  • Adult Briefs – For heavy urinary or bowel incontinence. Often contains cloth-like breathable fabric for more complete protection and improved skin health. Available in multiple absorbencies, and types for day and overnight use.

Where To Buy

You have a lot of choices when deciding where to purchase your incontinence products. While picking up a pack at your local grocery store may seem most convenient, it may also result in purchasing the wrong product, because you’re limited to what they carry. NAFC strongly recommends using an online store or a mail order service when deciding what product to purchase for the following reasons:

  • More options – Simply put, online and mail order retailers have more options to choose from than the average grocery store. This makes sense, when you consider they can house a whole warehouse full of product, whereas a grocery or drug store is typically limited to just an aisle.
  • Discretion – Most online and mail order services will mail your product directly to your door in non-descript packaging, so you don’t have to worry about embarrassing run-ins with people you know when buying the product.
  • Expert Consultation – When you use a mail order service, you’ll have access to product experts, who know the various brands inside and out, and who can guide you to a product that will work best for you. This is probably the best reason to choose a mail order service, as it may eliminate the guesswork and get you to your perfect product faster.

NAFC Trusted Resources

We know making decisions about purchasing incontinence products can be challenging.  The good news is that NAFC has partnered with some of the most reliable and well-respected providers in the marketplace.  When we look at creating partnerships, we look at a long list of imperatives.  In particular, we look for companies that are known for delivering high quality customer care. Just as importantly, we make sure that they have a line of products tailored for distinct, individual needs – there’s such variation in incontinence symptoms and severity that it’s essential for our partners to provide a wide range of solutions. Finally, we look at pricing to ensure that users get the best possible value. 

One of our partners is LiveAnew. They’re committed to helping you find the right product the first time, every time.  That’s an important goal – too many people try product after product with disappointing results until they eventually stumble upon one that works. It’s a waste of time and money that no one should have to deal with. LiveAnew can help you eliminate that time and expense because they carry something for virtually every condition. You can contact LiveAnew Product Experts at 1-800-411-3008 or LiveAnew.com. Don’t forget to use code NAFC for 10% off your purchase of Prevail® products.