23 March 2019

How to choose the best 'discreet' pad for your lifestyle

Urinary incontinence doesn't mean you have to wear an adult diaper. Here's how to choose the best product for your lifestyle.

Incontinence and the products that absorb involuntary release of urine are often associated with hospices and situations where people no longer have control over their bladder. This, however, does not need to be the case.

Urinary incontinence is a condition that is more common than you think – it can happen to anyone, regardless of their gender or age.

Urinary incontinence can be managed successfully through various measures such as bladder training, electrical stimulation, biofeedback and pelvic floor strengthening, according to research published in South African Family Practice.

These treatments, albeit more conservative than surgical measures, make a difference, but absorbent pads are often still needed to avoid accidents in the workplace or a social setting.

Mention “incontinence products” and you immediately think of bulky adult diapers, stashed away in the back aisles of your nearest pharmacy. You can’t even consider pitching up at work wearing one of those.

However, these aren't your only option, as there is a great variety of incontinence products on the market. Discreet liners are available to help manage incontinence while you are working, practising sport or socialising. But how do you find the right product? Here are some factors to consider:

1. Incontinence products are not the same as sanitary pads

You might ask why you can’t just wear a sanitary pad instead of searching for specialised incontinence products. The main reason involves design and absorbency. Sanitary pads are designed to absorb fluids with a thicker consistency, such as menstrual blood, at a slower pace. Incontinence pads consist of multiple thin layers to absorb urine, while protecting the skin from wetness and rash.

2. Different genders need different products

Incontinence products are designed to fit the anatomies of the different genders for maximum comfort and protection. Female anatomies do best with products such as pads and panty liners, while male anatomies benefit from incontinence guards, which have a snug contour shape.

3. Choose the right absorbency

Just like sanitary products such as tampons and pads, incontinence liners and pads are designed for different levels of absorbency. Some people might only leak a few drops during the course of a day while other people might have a heavier urine flow. Look out for “light”, “medium” or “heavy” on the packaging.

4. Don’t hesitate to speak to a urologist

Talk to a medical professional before you shop. If you are suffering from urinary incontinence, especially when the onset is sudden, it’s important to inform your doctor who might refer you to a urologist, as there might be an underlying medical problem.

If urinary incontinence becomes a regular occurrence, speak to a urologist about the best way to manage your condition and the best products to use.

5. Disposable or not?

Most incontinence products are designed to be disposable, but you can also choose washable, reusable products that are more eco-friendly.

Image credit: iStock  


Ask the Expert

Incontinence Expert

Dr Prenevin Govender completed his MBChB at the University of Cape Town in 2001. He obtained his Fellowship of the College of Urologists in 2009 and graduated with distinction for a Masters in Medicine from the University of Cape Town in 2010. His special interests include laparoscopic, pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence surgery. He consults full-time at Life Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont.

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