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    Bladder Control Products for Urinary Incontinence

    You laugh and then leak. Or you sneeze and then dribble. Maybe you just lose it all.

    "Urinary incontinence" describes the broad range of bladder control problems that affect more than 12 million people. If you’re one of them, you should see a doctor. Treatments can improve or stop the problem. But over-the-counter "hygiene products" can help you manage it. There’s a lot to consider when choosing products.

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    Absorbent Products

    Liners, pads, disposable underwear, and reusable underwear absorb moisture. Products made for incontinence control "catch" the leaks and pull moisture away from your skin. That allows you to go longer between changes.

    All incontinence protection products have a "saturation" point -- they can hold only so much liquid -- but the products don’t absorb at the same rate. Sometimes the difference can be dramatic. There’s no standard for terms such as "plus" or "ultra plus," so try different brands to find what works best for you.

    Many disposable pads, liners, and undergarments have a waterproof backing. This helps prevent overflow from reaching your clothes. The newest waterproof system uses a "breathable" plastic film that helps reduce skin irritation associated with some waterproof linings.

    Choosing Your Product Style

    Pads and liners come in a variety of shapes and sizes. That makes it easier to find the right fit for your body shape and lifestyle.

    Liners are generally wider and longer than pads and offer better "front-to-back" protection. Pads are usually curved. Many contain elastic on the sides to cradle your body and help keep leaks from rolling over the edge.

    There's also a range of disposable undergarments with built-in protection -- not just in the crotch, but throughout the entire garment. Styles range from pull-ons with elasticized legs and waists resembling a traditional cloth panty to underwear that slips on with Velcro or adhesive tabs for a customized fit. You can also find open-sided "thong style" panties held together by straps in the front and back that rest on top of the hip bone.

    Guards are pads designed around a man's anatomy and worn inside regular underwear. They're held in place by adhesive tabs pressed against fabric. With a variation known as a "drip collector," the penis is placed inside a protective, absorbent sack that absorbs urine flow.

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