According to recent reports, the number of people experiencing incontinence may have doubled over the past 15 years to more than 25 million. While that increase might in part reflect the lessening taboo surrounding the condition—people are more willing to talk about it and seek help, one statistic has remained constant: Over 75 percent of people with incontinence issues are women.
Incontinence for women is a serious concern. By some accounts, one in four women over 18 experiences episodes of urine leakage. Among the various types are urge incontinence in women or overactive bladder with recurrent symptoms of urgency and frequency making it hard to get to the bathroom in time. One of the reasons bladder incontinence in women is up to five times more likely than for men is because of the physical changes experienced during pregnancy and childbirth. Causes of incontinence include a variety of medical conditions that should be evaluated by your doctor—remember that incontinence itself isn’t a condition but rather a symptom of a condition. Also, incontinence is not an unavoidable part of aging.
Choosing products to manage urine incontinence in women depends on the degree of the problem. The best incontinence products for women with light incontinence are disposable incontinence pads and liners. Because they are made to absorb urine rather than menstrual flow, these incontinence aids are far more effective than regular panty liners or menstrual pads. A thin liner might be the right choice for women with very light absorbency needs, such as losing a few drops of urine while coughing or laughing. Look for liners with a specific design that follows your body's natural contours to get a great fit and exact coverage.
Many women who need mild to moderate bladder control protection start with absorbent adult pads that can be used with regular underwear or in combination with reusable incontinence underwear that looks and feels just like a pair of panties—the outer material is often a soft cotton teamed with a blended inside layer. By combining an adult liner with a washable incontinence brief, you get an added dimension of protection, especially when you choose a brand that offers both products and designs them to work together—the brief is constructed to hold a liner or pad in place. Some styles of reusable incontinence underwear can absorb a certain amount of fluid, but keep in mind that these briefs have their limitations—on their own, they may only hold a few ounces in contrast to disposable adult diapers, some of which can hold more than a cup of urine.
When a higher level of absorbency is needed, pull-up disposable briefs and adult disposable diapers with tab closures are top choices. According to some studies, pull-up briefs are preferred over tab closure styles by more active, independent women, who describe them as easier to put on and quicker to change while standing. Adult disposable diapers with adjustable tabs may be easier for caregivers of patients with limited mobility.
When deciding on exactly which incontinence supplies for women are right for you, one solution might be a combination of products, especially when cost is a concern: choose more expensive and more effective designs when you’re out and about and want total security and have less expensive designs for when you’re at home.