Urinary incontinence products - self-care
If you have problems with urinary incontinence (leakage), wearing special products will keep you dry and help you avoid embarrassing situations.
Adult diapers; Disposable urinary collection devices
Choosing the Right Product
First, talk with your doctor to make sure of 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 doctor 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 doctor might ask you to drink less fluid throughout the day to cut down on leakage. Your doctor 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 doctor 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:
- 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. 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.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor or nurse 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).
Mendez-Probst CE, Razvi H, Denstedt JD. Fundamental of instrumentation and urinary tract drainage. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 7.
Jennifer K. Mannheim, ARNP, Medical Staff, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Seattle Children's Hospital; and Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Chief of Urology, Cambridge Health Alliance, Visiting Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.