Lots of men hate the idea of using incontinence products -- so-called adult diapers, urine collection bags, and catheters. But if you're having a problem with male incontinence, these products can really help. They can prevent embarrassing accidents, simplify your life, and increase your confidence. Here's a rundown of some of your options.
- Incontinence pads and other absorbent products. While women grow up using pads (albeit of a different sort), men can find the idea pretty weird and distressing. But these incontinence products can be enormously helpful. They can prevent leaking onto your clothes, control odor, and prevent skin irritation. What's more, knowing you're protected can provide you with a sense of security.
Of course, there are so many types available that you may not know where to start. The best choice depends on your symptoms. If you're just having occasional leaking or dribble, a drip collector -- an absorbent padded sheath that goes around the penis -- might do the trick. For mild cases, an incontinence pad inserted into the underwear and held in place with an adhesive strip might work. If you're having more severe incontinence, a larger guard or pair of absorbent underwear may be what you need. Some briefs are washable; others are disposable. If you're confused about what type will work best for you, just ask your doctor for advice. It may take some experimentation before you find a type of incontinence product that works and feels comfortable for you.
- External catheters. Unlike the catheters used at the hospital, external catheters for male incontinence are silicone or latex devices that go over the penis instead of into the urethra. They're usually rolled on like condoms. The urine is sent through a tube into a drainage bag. Some men only use these devices at night. To prevent leaks, it's very important to get the right fit and to follow the instructions from the manufacturer.
- Drainage bags. These are just the plastic bags that you would attach to a catheter. Larger ones are called "bedside bags" and are hung near the bed. Smaller ones can be worn on the body, attached to the abdomen or leg with straps.
- Underpads. These incontinence products are basic waterproof pads or covers that can be placed on furniture or mattresses to protect against leaks. They add an extra level of protection.
- Urinals and other toilet substitutes. When getting to the bathroom isn't possible, plastic urinals can be a big help for male incontinence. These are plastic containers that a man can urinate into. They may be particularly helpful if you have urge incontinence, which makes it tough to get to the bathroom fast enough. You can keep one by the bed and another in the car in case you get stuck somewhere without a bathroom.
- Penile clamps. They may sound unpleasant, but for certain men, penile clamps -- also called "external compression devices" -- can make a big difference. A small amount of pressure exerted on the penis can temporarily close off the urethra, stopping any potential leakage. The part that fits around the penis is soft foam and shouldn't be uncomfortable. These devices aren't right for everyone, so talk to your doctor. Using them too often could cause circulation problems, skin irritation, and strictures. Generally, they're only meant to be used for a couple of hours at a time.
Where Can I Find Men's Incontinence Products?
Incontinence pads and disposable undergarments are usually available at drugstores and supermarkets. For other male incontinence products, a medical supply store might be your best bet.
If you're anxious about buying incontinence products publicly, just look online. You should be able to find just about anything you want at an online superstore or online medical supply company. However, before spending a lot of money on a male incontinence product, check with a doctor to make sure it's likely to help.
Using Male Incontinence Products
Some guys don't want to try urinary incontinence products because they feel like it's a sign of defeat. Once they start buying pads, they think, they'll be stuck buying them for the rest of their lives. But remember that a lot of men may only need incontinence products temporarily. For instance, if you've just had prostate surgery, using some of these products may help get you through while you're healing. Other men rely on incontinence products for a short time while their doctors figure out the underlying cause of their problems.
Think of incontinence products as valuable tools to help you get by. They may not be a long-term solution, but they can vastly improve your quality of life right now.