Incontinence? 13 Products That May Help
Help with bladder control
Whether it's due to pregnancy or childbirth (if you’re a woman) or prostate cancer treatment (if you’re a man), the problem is something you’re probably working with your doctor to treat.
But there are also everyday products that can help. "When choosing, it is important to think about the nature of the problem, its severity, and the time of day or night that it occurs," says Nancy Muller, PhD, executive director of the National Association for Continence in Charleston, S.C.
With these in mind, here are 13 products to consider.
Unfortunately, skin irritation can be a side effect of having incontinence problems.
Using special moisturizers on the perineal area (the area between the genitals and anus) can help protect against rashes and dry skin.
Applying a barrier cream can also help protect the skin from irritation. This is particularly important for people who have severe incontinence or for those who have problems staying dry at night, says Muller.
No more. You can buy disposable undergarments that are comfortable and quiet, if not all that sexy. They have cotton-like outer materials and more efficient inner layers, which can absorb more than 20 times their weight in liquid.
Muller recommends store brands from Walgreens and other drugstores.
"The effectiveness of a product is not a function of the square inches of material," adds Muller. Get a gender-specific size and fit to avoid bunching and leakage, as well as wasting your money on products that don’t work for you.
Just wear them and then throw them in the wash like normal underwear.
Compression pouch (for men)
These are disposable products that should not be used at night, according to the manufacturers.
However, some women struggle to pinpoint the appropriate muscles to squeeze. There are products that can help, but some are better than others.
"I definitely recommend doing Kegels," says Muller. "Unfortunately a lot of the exercisers are a little gimmicky."
She recommends trying vaginal weights or even a high-tech pelvic floor electrical stimulator, with coaching from a physical therapist.
You may opt for disposable or washable sheets.
Consider putting a waterproof mattress pad over the bottom sheet to wick moisture away from your skin, lowering the chances that you’ll wake up with a rash or infection.
Other similarly designed chair and mattress pads are also available.
Instead, look for a specialized moisturizing cleanser that is formulated to remove urine or stool without the need for scrubbing.
"I can’t say enough about the importance of nonirritating cleansers," says Muller.
Books on incontinence
Several books offer advice for living with or overcoming incontinence, including the step-by-step guide Mind Over Bladder and the more technical Managing & Treating Incontinence.
The National Association for Continence also publishes a comprehensive directory of products and services for incontinence.
Disposable pads can be worn in regular underwear, and come in a range of sizes and absorption capacities such as long, light, and heavy.
Muller suggests looking for products with special layers that can wick urine away from your skin.
Rather than simply disguising the odor with a perfume or deodorant, she suggests using a nonirritating product to eliminate it.
You can spray these products on underwear, linens, clothing, or in bathrooms. There are several choices formulated for people with incontinence, so try a few to find one that works for you.
Wipes, and bags to put them in
As if suffering through an incontinence episode isn’t stressful enough, you still need to deal with your soiled pads, washcloths, and any other waste products you have on hand.
Consider buying opaque, odor-controlling disposable bags, so you can more easily pitch the stuff in the nearest garbage can.
Pad and underwear combo
This type of underwear, for example, offers a sewn-in pouch that securely conceals a disposable liner.
External collection system (for men)
One product that may help is an external collection system, which includes a collection bag attached to a sheath that goes over the penis. And everything fits inside a washable pair of cotton briefs.
"It’s very comfortable, discreet, and economical," says Muller.