There's no way around it: Loss of bladder control is no fun. But you can manage urinary incontinence. There are dozens of products designed to help you control mild, moderate, and severe symptoms. One of them could help you get out and be active again.
Pads and Protective Garments
Protective pads and garments are by far the most common products out there. They come in a broad range of sizes, absorbencies, styles, and colors. The most common ones include:
- Absorbent pads. They're disposable and designed for women and men. Adhesive strips hold them inside your underwear. They trap 8 or more ounces of urine and keep it away from your skin. They also block odor and can be changed throughout the day.
- Adult panties and briefs look a lot like everyday underwear for women and men. But they include a waterproof liner and built-in cloth pad that can absorb 10 or more ounces of urine. They are reusable, washable, and typically available in a range of colors. You can get day styles as well as overnight ones, which are designed to hold more urine. Like absorbent pads, this underwear is designed to be absorbent, keep moisture from your skin, and control odor.
- Adult diapers come in lots of styles. Some look similar to (and pull on and off like) elastic-banded underwear, but are designed to be disposable. Others have tape on the sides like regular diapers. They come in a range of colors as well as day and overnight versions.
- Protective underpads are disposable or reusable flat pads with an absorbent layer on one side and a moisture barrier on the other. They protect mattresses, chairs, or other furniture from urine leaks. Some have antibacterial and antifungal finishes and adhesive strips to keep them in place. They also come in a range of absorbencies.
- Plastic pants fit over your regular undergarments and help protect against mild to moderate leaks.
Pelvic Muscle Training Devices
Use these products when you do Kegel exercises, which help strengthen and control the muscles you clench when you try to hold in urine. While you don't need external devices to perform Kegels, you may find they help enhance your workout.
There's an array of Kegel training devices out there. Some are geared to men and women, including appliances you squeeze between your thighs. Vaginal weights, rods, and cones of various sizes are intended for women.
It’s hard to tell at a glance which items might help you -- or how some of them work. So do research and talk to your doctor before you buy. Your doctor can help you narrow down the choices.
Urethral Inserts and Other Products
- Pessaries go into the vagina to support the bladder or compress the urethra. They come in an array of sizes and shapes. Your doctor will fit you, but It may take some trial and error to figure out which one works best.
- Urethral inserts go into the urethra and block urine flow. When you have to go, take it out, toss it, and insert a new one when you’re done.
- Tampons can work like pessaries for a mild problem.
- Penile clamps provide pressure to keep the urethra closed for mild to moderate leaks.
- Male guards are small sleeves that fit over the tip of the penis to contain light moisture.
- Condom catheters fit around the penis. They end in a tube that leads to a collection bag strapped to your body.
Don't let the wide range of products hold you back. Your doctor can recommend the right products to help you take control -- and start doing the things you enjoy again.