Over 75 percent of the 25+ million people with incontinence issues are women. By some accounts, one in four women over 18 experiences episodes of urine leakage at some point in their lives. One of the reasons bladder incontinence is up to five times more likely in women than in men is because of the physical changes that occur during pregnancy, childbirth and menopause.
The most common type of female incontinence is stress urinary incontinence or SUI. This occurs when the bladder unexpectedly leaks due to pressure from physical exertion such as heavy lifting or exercising, but even coughing, sneezing and laughing can cause a loss of control. SUI stems from weakened pelvic floor muscles. Amounts of leakage tend to be small, but can be more significant. Another type is urge incontinence—also called an overactive bladder—with symptoms of urgency and frequency that make it hard to get to the bathroom in time.
Incontinence should always be evaluated by your doctor—that's because it isn't a condition but rather a symptom of a condition. Also, keep in mind that incontinence is not an unavoidable part of aging, so get expert advice to help you manage it. To better understanding the types of incontinence women face, Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital offers helpful information
as does the Mayo Clinic
To regain a sense of confidence, choose from a wide array of products including pads and liners, disposable and reusable underwear, as follows:
Incontinence Pads For Women
Choosing the right products to manage incontinence depends on the degree of the problem. The best products for women with light incontinence are disposable incontinence pads and liners. Because they are specifically made to absorb urine, these incontinence aids are far more effective than regular panty liners and even 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, such as TENA Serenity Light Bladder Control Pads
in regular length. Its superabsorbent core locks in liquid quickly to keep you dry, and it has advanced odor protection and an adhesive strip to secure it in place. If you need more protection consider more absorbent incontinence pads with more surface area. Poise Pads Ultimate Coverage
are over 14" from front to back. They have a core that locks away wetness, a thin yet contoured design and a soft top layer for superior comfort.
Ultra Absorbent Pads Plus Reusable Underwear for Women
Reusable incontinence underwear looks and feels just like a pair of panties—the outer material is often a soft cotton with a blended inside layer. HealthDri Ladies Heavy Reusable Protective Panties
, for instance, is a one-piece undergarment that holds up to six ounces of fluid and can be washed and re-worn over 150 times. It is made of a silky 100-percent Pointelle cotton outer with a cotton, polyester and nylon blend inner material. Its patented moisture-control system pulls fluids away from the skin to promote dryness and control odor.
If you need incontinence underwear to absorb more fluid, combine a washable incontinence brief with an absorbent liner. This approach is especially effective when you choose a brand that designs both products so that they work together—the brief should be constructed to hold a liner or pad in place, like Comfort Pants by TENA
, which hold TENA pads in place without shifting. They can also be washed over 50 times. Choose the TENA pad according to your needs. For high-level protection, team the Comfort Pants with the TENA Night Super Pad-Maximum Absorbency
. As part of the two-piece system, these pads provide a discreet, body-close fit. They're anatomically designed for comfort and security, and have a dry-fast core for long-lasting dryness, plus a wetness indicator on the outside to help you know when to change it.
Disposable Incontinence Underwear For Women
When a higher level of absorbency is needed, pull-up disposable briefs and adult disposable diapers with tab closures are top choices—some can hold well over a cup of urine. Many active, independent women prefer pull-up briefs and feel that they're easier to put on and quicker to change while standing. Others like the ability to adjust the fit to a more exact degree with tab styles, and these may be easier for a caregiver to put on and change, especially when the wearer has limited mobility.
Popular choices include TENA Women Heavy Protection Underwear
. Designed to look and feel like regular underwear, this is a pull-on style for moderate to heavy bladder weakness. It has cottony soft fabric that hugs the body for a close, comfortable fit.
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.