Where do you start in how to choose the right incontinence product? The following list is intended to help you through this process.

Level of Incontinence
The first step is to determine the level of incontinence that best fits your needs.

Light: dribbling and occasional urine release, usually less than 4oz per episode.
Moderate: large releases of urine but not a full bladder loss.
Heavy: full bladder loss in the daytime, usually 10-16oz of urine.
Overnight: bladder loss during the nighttime, either slowly or all at once.
Fecal: loss of bowel control.

Reusable vs. Disposable

Reusable products require more financial investment upfront but are more economical in the long term. They are also more environmentally friendly because they do not fill up landfills. Most reusable products come in singles or small bundles to try out. They are options designed for all levels of incontinence and include briefs with snaps, women's underwear, men's underwear, liners, covers, and swim diapers. To learn more about adult cloth diapers read Are Adult Cloth Diapers Better?

Disposable products offer more variety of choices and do not need to be laundered. They are specially designed products that have highly absorbent cores to wick away the fluids from the skin. Some have added protection for odor control and leg cuff guards to help prevent leakage. Many are now designed with cloth-like outer coverings and breathable side panels.

Measurement and Sizing - Getting the Right Fit

The next step in choosing the right incontinence product is to determine the correct size needed for a specific product. Carefully measure the waist and hip size of the person. Use the larger of the two measurements to compare to the given table in the product's description. It is important to remember every brand and style may have a slightly different fit and measurement. Don't depend on the stated size being the same measurements for every manufacturer. A snug fit around the legs is important to help prevent leakage.

Types of Products

Pads and liners have the greatest variety of all the styles made. They range from a very thin strip for the occasional day leakage to a large overnight design for overnight incontinence.

Booster pads are different from regular pads in that they are designed for added absorption. They do not have a moisture-proof barrier and are added to another product to increase overall absorption.

Belted Undergarments are basically a pad with a belt attached to hold them in place. They are one-size fits all designs.

Pull-ups are designed to replace regular underwear. They are pull-on like underwear, but usually have tear-away sides for removal.

Briefs (diapers with tabs) open up like a diaper and have tabs, tape, or hook and latch closures.

Uniquely Designed Products Just for Men or Women

Men's products made specifically for men include urine guards and pouches that fit on the end of the penis. They also include pads with cups, pull-ups, and both reusable and disposable briefs. Some reusable briefs look and feel like real underwear.

Women's products include pads, pull-ups, and reusable panties. A very popular style for women is made to look and feel like real panties. The absorption and fit are designed with women's bodies and needs specifically in mind.

The majority of both reusable and disposable products are gender generic.

Specialty Sizes - Youth or Bariatric

Youth sizes cover between adolescence and adult sizes. Both briefs and pull-ups are made in this size. Products are categorized by weight and/or measurements.

Bariatric sizes include waist or hip measurements greater than 55-60". Products for bariatric sizes include pads, belted undergarments, pull-ups, and both disposable and reusable briefs.

Fecal Incontinence

Some manufacturers have designed products for bowel and fecal incontinence. There are nicely designed briefs with tabs, pull-ups, and pads for fecal incontinence.


Discreteness is very important to most people dealing with incontinence. If discreteness is important, there are several options such as products with cloth-like outer covering, which helps prevent the rustling of the sound of plastic. Also, some manufacturers have developed a compact core to keep down the bulkiness.

How Much Does It Cost?

Another determining factor in how to choose the right incontinence product can be the price. See our budgeting article for more information on budgeting. Highly absorbent products can be more expensive but necessary for adequate control. Some brands are more economically priced.

No one needs to be worried about having an accident in public. See our incontinence on the go self-help article for help out in public. Incontinence control is possible with the right fit, style, and weight of briefs or pull-ups. If a person properly measures and purchases correctly, they will be successful at controlling their incontinence.

Feel free to ask our nurse a question or call our customer service line 866-559-0353.

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