Ask the Nurse: What’s the right continence pad for me?

Incontinence is rarely spoken about, but it’s more prevalent than you think. In fact, urinary incontinence affects up to 13% of Australian men and up to 37% of Australian women (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2006).

If you’re suffering from incontinence, help is at hand. There are many products available that can make a difference to your lifestyle and manage your incontinence.

When it comes to absorbent products there’s a world of choice. Disposable pads are available in a variety of styles including all-in-one (nappy style), belted undergarments or a pad and pant system.

The key factors to address when determining the right continence pad:

1. Correct absorbency

Pads offer different absorbencies – from light to moderate to heavy. It’s important they provide the right absorbency to suit your individual needs. If you’re unsure which absorbency you require, follow these steps:

  • Wrap an unused pad in a plastic bag and weigh it in grams (set the scales to zero first).
  • Wear the pad until you have leaked.
  • Place the used pad in the same plastic bag and re-weigh using the same scales.
  • Subtract the first (dry) weight from the second (wet) weight. This will give you the amount you have leaked in grams (providing the pad has contained all the leakage).
  • One ml of urine weighs about one gram. So, if the weight you are left with is 50g then you know that there was about 50ml of urine in the pad.
  • If you want, you can do this several times to get an idea of how much you leak each time. You may also be able to see if the amount you leak varies between different activities or if you have a ‘usual’ amount. Click here to download a voiding diary.

2. Correct size

It’s important to use a pad that fits properly – otherwise it can leak and cause skin rashes, abrasions and inconvenience. A good way of ensuring you’ve got the correct size is to measure your waist or hips (depending what the style/ brand requires), and to know the level of absorbency you require.

3. Correct style

Products need to suit your lifestyle. For example, pull-up pants are suitable for people with active lifestyles or dementia, but are unsuitable for people with poor dexterity. An all-in-one pad is more suitable for bed bound or chair fast clients who require assistance. If you’re unsure, click here to contact our urology and continence nurse advisor, Phil Wilkinson. Alternatively, you can contact your healthcare professional or take the quiz below to find out your best disposable pad type.

Please note the below quiz is only a guide. If you’re unsure or have severe / complicated health problems, please consult a health professional.

Everything you need to know about the different types of disposable continence pad.

Here’s a no-nonsense, straight-talking guide to your choices. Let’s go through them all one by one:

  • Guards & Shields are small disposable pads with a waterproof backing and an adhesive strip to secure to underwear. Guards are similar in size and shape to female menstrual pads while shields are a similar shape to cricket protective cups. They come in a variety of styles, lengths and absorbencies to suit different needs. Examples include liners for extra light incontinence, guards with wings for added security and shields for men.

    Absorbencies: vary from 20-670mL.

    Best for people with light to moderate incontinence who have the ability to change as required. These are also suitable for people with poor dexterity.

  • Booster Pads are disposable pads worn inside the leg guards of ‘host garments’ like pull-ups or nappies. They are used for additional absorbency. No moisture proof backing means that any excess fluid not absorbed by the booster is absorbed by the main garment below. Available in a variety of lengths and absorbencies.

    Absorbencies: vary from 90mL to 680mL.

    Best for people with light to moderate incontinence and for those who want extra peace of mind and security.

  • Pad and Pant System consists of an absorbent pad with a waterproof backing that is secured close to the body using stretch pants or your own underwear. The pad from the Pad and Pant System doesn’t have side wings, attachment tabs or padding around the sides.

    Absorbencies: vary from 450mL to 2210mL

    Best for people with moderate to heavy incontinence. Used alongside underwear or stretch pants (refer to the stretch pants section). Suitable for active people or for people with poor dexterity.

  • Stretch Pants are an elastic fitting stretch pant, used to keep a disposable pad in place (refer to the Pad and Pant System). They’re easy to get on and off and can be washed and re-used up to 30 times. They are available in multiple sizes.

    Absorbencies: N/A

    Best for people who have moderate to heavy incontinence. They are used as part of the Pad and Pant System. Please refer to Pad and Pant System section.

  • Pull-Up Pants pull on and off just like regular underwear. They are padded and look like normal underwear for discretion and easy toileting. They come in different sizes and have elastic at both the waist and legs to ensure a snug fit.

    Absorbencies: vary from 520mL to 1530mL.

    Best for people with moderate to heavy incontinence who have good dexterity. Also suitable for people who are active or have dementia.

  • All-In-One (Nappy Style) disposable pads are the traditional nappy style pads with adhesive tabs. They are designed for maximum security. They fasten at the side, have elastic waistbands and leg bands and are available in multiple sizes.

    Absorbencies: vary from 810mL to 2800mL.

    Best for people with moderate to heavy incontinence who are bed bound.

  • Belted All-In-One disposable pads are held in place by an integrated belt to allow for easy adjustment. Belted style products leave the hip area exposed for greater comfort and the reusable adhesive tabs facilitate easy toileting. They are available in multiple sizes.

    Absorbencies: vary from 620mL to 3180mL.

    Best for people with moderate to heavy incontinence. Suitable for people who are toilet training or who are voiding but need the security of a high capacity pad.

Still unsure?

For more details about all of these products, or how to choose the right style, size and fit contact our Urology and Continence nurse by clicking here. Alternatively, you can consult a health professional like a GP or Continence Nurse.

Independence Australia offers FREE samples for disposable continence pads. To request free samples contact our customer service team on 1300 788 855 or email customerservice@independenceaustralia.com.