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What is the right continence pad for me?

Incontinence is rarely spoken about, but it’s highly prevalent. 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). Given the number of individuals affected, there are many variations of products on the market. One such product developed to manage incontinence is a continence pad.

If you suffer from incontinence, help is at hand. There are many products available that can make a difference to lifestyle and we have the guide to assist in selecting the right continence pad to suit your needs.

When it comes to absorbent products there’s now a world of choice. Individuals can opt for washable/reusable or disposable pads. 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 each individual’s needs. If you are unsure which absorbency you require, follow these steps with the help of a continence nurse to select the right pad for you.

  • 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 they’re left with 50g then you know that there was about 50ml of urine in the pad.
  • They can do this several times to get an idea of how much they leak each time. They may also be able to see if the amount they leak varies between different activities or if you have a ‘usual’ amount.

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 correct size is to have a healthcare professional measure your waist or hips (depending what the style/ brand requires), and inform you of the level of absorbency you will require.

3. Correct style

Products need to suit differing lifestyles. For example, pull-up pants are suitable for people with active lifestyles or dementia, but are unsuitable for people with poor dexterity.

What’s next?

Independence Australia stocks a wide range of Continence products.

Everything you need to know about the different types of disposable continence pads:

Here’s a no-nonsense, straight-talking guide to the choices in pads available to assist in selecting the right continence pad

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 absorbency levels 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 absorbency levels. 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 2210mLBest 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.

Watch the video below of Phil who gives us 11 of his best tips for a healthier bladder

By Phil Wilkinson
Urology and Continence Nurse

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This article is sponsored by Independence Australia, a social enterprise that provides choices for people living with a disability or other personal need, enabling them to regain and retain their independence within a supportive community.

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