What Makes Incontinence Pads and Menstrual Pads Different?

If you are a woman wondering whether you should choose incontinence pads over menstrual pads for bladder leaks or your period, we are here to help clear it up. All pads are not equal, and there are quite a few differences between a pad made for bladder leaks and one made to protect a female with her period.

What are incontinence pads?

An incontinence pad is designed to be inserted inside a primary undergarment and are made with super-absorbent polymers to protect against bladder leaks. They quickly absorb small to large amounts of fluid and retain it with waterproof backing. These pads are constructed with wicking fabric to draw moisture away from the skin and neutralize odors which can help prevent skin irritation. Depending on a person’s needs, incontinence pads are available in various sizes, absorbencies, and shapes for both genders.

What are menstrual pads?

Menstrual pads absorbent materials are not designed to hold and retain urine.The consistency of menstrual blood is very different from urine. Although inserted in a primary undergarment like an incontinence pad, menstrual pads are not designed with the same technology as incontinence pads to absorb and lock in liquid. And since they do not lock in moisture properly, the skin’s integrity is at risk. Menstrual pads have a lower absorption level and only mask odors, not control them.

A menstrual pad is a hygiene product worn by women when menstruating, recovering from gynecologic surgery, bleeding after giving birth, or for any other reason that requires blood absorption. Depending on the blood flow, they are available in various shapes, sizes, and absorbencies. Menstrual pads are sometimes referred to as sanitary napkins or period pads.

Can I use incontinence pads for menstruation?

Because the technology of an incontinence pad is made to absorb urine or liquid feces specifically, the blood will not absorb as quickly as it would with a menstrual pad. The flow of menstruation is much slower than that of bladder leaks. However, some women have reported that using an incontinence pad for menstruation did the job effectively.

Can menstrual pads be used for bladder leaks?

The short answer is no. Managing incontinence correctly is critical for skin health and overall health, and menstrual pads cannot do so. Menstrual pads’ absorbent materials are not designed to hold and retain urine, so leakage is bound to occur. And since menstrual pads are not made with the wicking materials of incontinence pads, the skin can stay wet, causing irritation and odors.

We hope we have clarified the difference between incontinence and menstrual pads and why you should use each based on their properties for specific needs. Shop our website to find the best incontinence products, including menstrual pads, for the type of leak protection you need. As always, our Incontinence Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to help should you need assistance choosing the incontinence product for your unique needs.

In our other blog post, All About Incontinence Pads, learn more about all the different styles, options, and features of these incontinence products.

All About Incontinence Pads featuring a brief, belted undergarment, and pads

Top-Selling Incontinence and Menstrual Pads

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All About Incontinence Pads

Incontinence pads can be the answer if you are asking yourself a few questions. Are you experiencing an urge to urinate and worry that you are not going to be able to make it to the bathroom in time? Do you notice that you are sneezing, coughing, or laughing and releasing urine into your undergarments? Have you noticed that you’ve become nervous about possibly soiling the bed at night? You may need incontinence pads to get you through your days and nights worry-free until you can find a possible permanent solution to your urinary incontinence.

About Incontinence Pads

Designed to protect the skin from wetness and irritation, incontinence pads work to absorb urine leakage, keep you dry, and live a more dignified life. With so many incontinence pad options on the market today, it can be difficult to choose the right one for your unique needs. Incontinence pads are offered in a variety of absorbencies, styles, and sizes, and we will try to make it a little easier for you to understand what matters when choosing the incontinence pad that is right for you.

Incontinence Pad Absorbencies

First, we will discuss the various incontinence pad absorbencies. Whether you are leaking small droplets or you are experiencing the release of larger soils, there are different incontinence pad absorbencies that will deliver the leakage protection needed.

Manufacturers use different words to describe the various absorbency levels their incontinence pads provide because they each use their own unique rating scale. Terms such as Maxi, Super, Ultra, Triple, and Extra are frequently used to describe incontinence pads that offer heavy absorbency protection. Thin and Light are typically used to describe pads for minimal leakage, while Moderate and Medium are usually used for the protection needed in between light and heavy incontinence episodes.

Light Absorbency

When you experience light leakage such as a few drops at a time, a Thin or Light incontinence pad such as the Attends Light Insert Pads or the Depend Light Men’s Shields will probably be the best choice for the protection needed. These incontinence pads, sometimes referred to as panty shields or panty liners, are also less bulky, so they are more discreet than thicker pads that offer more absorbency.

Moderate Absorbency

TENA for Men Guards When more protection is needed for leakage slightly more than just a few droplets, moving up to a moderate protection incontinence pad is recommended. These pads are the most common incontinence pads and are able to absorb more than just a few dribbles of fluid. Moderate absorbency incontinence pads are also offered in a broader range of styles and sizes, which we will get into later. The Attends Discreet Moderate Incontinence Pad uses Quick Dry technology to deliver the absorbency needed but still remains quite discreet under clothing. TENA for Men Moderate Guards are designed specifically for the male anatomy and provide comfortable and discreet protection for moderate urinary incontinence.

Heavy Absorbency

When experiencing heavy leakage, more fluid absorbency is required and a Maximum, Extra, or Ultra incontinence pad is needed. Incontinence pads that provide heavy absorbency are also longer in length than moderate absorbency incontinence pads. This is due to the fact that these pads contain the most polymer, which also means they are typically bulkier and not as discreet. The Tranquility Male Guard would be a good option for men that require heavy leakage protection and the TENA Intimates Heavy Absorbency Ultimate Bladder Control Pad protects against leaks, odors, and wetness with its ProSkin Technology.

Incontinence Pads Styles

There are four main types of incontinence pads that we will cover: Shaped, All-in-One, Booster, and Male Guards.

Shaped Pads

Tranquility Select Personal Care Incontinence PadsShaped pads contour to the body’s natural curves to deliver comfort while they protect. These incontinence pads are a close fit for discretion and are sometimes offered with an adhesive strip to help them stay securely in place when moving around, especially at night.

One of our most popular incontinence shaped pads is the Tranquility Select Personal Care Pad. With its moisture-proof backing, these incontinence pads can be worn in regular clothing and the unisex style and length fits most sizes.

All-in-One Pads

All-in-one pads are generally recommended for moderate to heavy incontinence and can be worn on their own without the need for separate undergarments. They are the bulkiest of the incontinence pad selection, so if you are concerned with discreetness, they are not the best choice. Because they are very absorbent, all-in-one incontinence pads are ideal for both bladder and bowel leakage.

These incontinence pads are unisex and come in two different designs: resealable tape-tabs and belted incontinence pads.

Resealable Tape Tab Design

Simplicity incontinence padsThese incontinence pads feature resealable adhesive strips on the sides that conveniently adjust to various hip and waist measurements. Resealable incontinence pads are easy to put on and remove, making them a great choice for those that are immobile. The Simplicity Incontinence Liner is a great option for a streamlined fit and improved dignity compared to a full diaper.

Belted Incontinence Pad Design

Essentially a heavy absorbency incontinence pad, a belted undergarment features a belt instead of a resealable tape tab. The belted style makes it easy to change out the pad without the need to remove any articles of clothing such as pants and shoes. Because of the belted style, this incontinence pad stays in place for longer periods of time as they absorb urine and feces.

Belted incontinence pads come in two different styles: hook and loop and button closure.

hook and loop style belted undergarment incontinence pads1. Hook and Loop Style

The Tranquility Select Belted Undergarment is a perfect example of the hook and loop incontinence pad design that features adjustable elastic straps and can be worn in place of regular underwear. This unisex incontinence pad also has elastic leg gathers for a secure fit and keeps the skin dry with the superabsorbent polymers in the core. With the Peach Mat Guarantee, these incontinence pads promise to perform in the areas of skin dryness, odor control, urine pH neutralization, and prevention of bacterial growth.

button style belted undergarment incontinence pads2. Button Closure Style

Similar to the hook and loop design, this style uses buttons to secure the incontinence pad. The Prevail Belted Undergarment is also offered in this style. The 2-button elastic straps and waterproof, cloth-like outer layer are rustle-free and easily fits waist/hip sizes up to 44 inches.

Active people sometimes find that incontinence pull up pants provide more freedom of movement than all in ones.

Booster Pads

Booster Pads can be worn inside a primary undergarment such as a disposable brief or pull-on to increase the liquid holding capacity. These incontinence pads are specially designed to allow fluids to flow through until they fill to capacity and then pass the additional fluid into the primary disposable incontinence undergarment. Tranquility TopLiner incontinence booster pad If your brief or pull-up is filling up too quickly or you are experiencing leakage, adding a booster pad might be the right solution. Booster pads are an economical way to extend the use and provide an extra boost inside of a primary garment.

Tranquility offers a variety of booster pads such as the Tranquility TopLiner Booster Contour Pad that conforms to the body with its hourglass shape and provides a large absorbent area that even contains bowel incontinence.

The Abri-Let Booster Pad by Abena is another great choice that adds the needed absorbency. Suitable for use as a maternity pad, booster pad, wound care absorbent pad, or for light incontinence, this pad proves to be a truly multipurpose incontinence pad.

Male Guards

Designed specifically with the male anatomy in mind, the male guard is an incontinence pad for men with a unique shape and thin design. Suitable for regular men’s underwear or boxer briefs, the male guard is placed inside of the primary undergarment for protection against light to moderate incontinence episodes. attends discreet male guards incontinence pads for menThe male guard is not meant to be used with men’s boxers as this type of undergarment is not made to fit close and contour to the male body. Boxer briefs, on the other hand, are more conforming to the body’s shape and have a closer fit. Therefore, the male guard would be an option for use with the boxer brief.

The Attends Guards for Men are a great option for men that need to address light to moderate urinary incontinence with their super absorbent polymer core that locks in fluid and traps odors. Men can feel a sense of security in these male incontinence pads that offer improved leak protection while remaining discreet.

Fecal Pads

McKesson Abdominal and Fecal Incontinence PadsFecal incontinence pads are specifically designed for those that suffer from Accidental Bowel Leakage (ABL). With their discreet design that absorbs leaks and odors, fecal incontinence pads are shaped to fit in and around the buttocks to hold stool in place. These pads are for ideal for those dealing with minor bowel leakage. The McKesson Pads are excellent for fecal incontinence and feature sealed edges to prevent leaks and superior absorption due to their inner cellulose tissue material.

Visit our Fecal Incontinence Pad page for more information on fecal incontinence pads and how to choose the right one for your specific needs.

Incontinence Pads for Women

The selection of incontinence pads for women has considerably grown throughout the years. Previously only offered in just a few sizes, incontinence pads for women are now available in a wide variety of styles, shapes, sizes, and absorbencies. Many women opt for incontinence pads, panty shields, or panty liners over briefs and pull-ons for a few good reasons:

Discretion: Incontinence pads for women are made to be much more discreet underneath clothing than even the smallest pull-on underwear.

Comfort: Because incontinence pads for women are smaller, they tend to be more breathable and help the wearer to not get as hot.

Cost: Even the incontinence pads for women that are extra-large cost approximately 40% less than briefs or pull-on underwear.

Incontinence Pads for Men

Incontinence pads for men are designed with the unique shape of the male anatomy in mind. While it seems more common for women to mature and use pads for different reasons aside from incontinence needs, men tend to think of the need to use pads a bit distressing. Certain procedures such as prostate surgery can be the reason for temporary use of incontinence pads, while other times there may be an underlying cause that requires the use of incontinence pads for men until the root cause is determined by a doctor.

Incontinence pads for men can simplify a man’s life and help prevent leaks and other embarrassing accidents, leading to a sense of security, protection, and more confidence. Incontinence pads for men can be purchased and discreetly delivered by Personally Delivered. This option can help men manage their incontinence with dignity.

Choosing the Right Size of Incontinence Pad

Choosing the right incontinence pad is important to make sure that you do not face any embarrassment due to leakage or irritation due to purchasing the incorrect size. Three main factors should be taken into consideration when deciding on the right incontinence pad for your unique needs; fit, material, and brand.


Making sure the incontinence pad fits properly is an important step in choosing the right product. If the incontinence product fits too tightly, the skin may become irritated from friction and result in the need to continuously readjust the undergarment. If the incontinence undergarment is too loose, urine and/or feces will be able to seep through.


The material the incontinence pad is made of can cause allergies to the skin if not correctly chosen. It is always wise to check for the type of material the incontinence pad is made of to prevent any rashes or infections. Many people have an allergy to latex, some plastics, and foils, so keeping an eye on the material used to construct the incontinence pad will help to eliminate any potential skin reactions.


woman measuring hips and waist for properly fitting incontinence pads and productsChoosing the right brand of incontinence undergarments helps you decide the right size and fitting as well as the right material. As previously mentioned, each brand has its own specifications. Depending on the manufacturer, you may need to take note of your weight or waist/hip measurement to order your pads in the proper size for your body dimensions.

Different brands of incontinence pads promote better protection from various concerns such as odor and skin irritation, while other brands offer incontinence pads in a wider range of sizes and absorbencies.

Cardinal Health brands itself on giving assurance that fluids are absorbed quickly and odors are controlled with their SureCare Bladder Control Pads that are offered in Light, Medium, and Heavy absorbencies.

MoliCare Form incontinence padsUsing incontinence pads from Attends, such as their Discreet Ultimate Pads can deliver increased protection with a triple layer for leak protection and advanced DermaDry technology to keep skin dry.

When it comes to incontinence pads, soft and comfortable are two qualities a person would prefer and MoliCare MoliForm incontinence panty liners prove to deliver. They are made from soft, cloth-like materials that are also sturdy and super absorbent.

When considering which incontinence pad is right for your needs, you will need to keep in mind a couple of things pertaining to the different sizes and absorbencies available to you:

  • Pads generally increase in size with increasing absorbency – the bigger the incontinence pad, the more it will hold.
  • Fitted pads like all-in-ones are offered in a range of sizes to fit different size bodies for each absorbency level.

How to Dispose of Incontinence Pads

Disposable incontinence pads are not a recyclable items and are meant for use as a single-use personal protective products. Made of flammable materials, they should also be kept away from heat sources and never flushed down a toilet.

If you are using incontinence pads in large quantities, disposal can pose a problem. Keeping a sufficient supply of trash bags that are scented and a dedicated bin outside of the home to toss them out is a good option. The scented disposal bags will help control odor and the location of the container can significantly reduce lingering odors in the home.

Most disposable incontinence pads have a sticky strip on the back to conveniently attach it to the primary undergarment, which can also be used when preparing for disposal. Simply remove the incontinence pad, roll it up, and secure it closed with the adhesive strip. If there is stool in the incontinence pad, either dispose of it in a toilet or double bag the pad for additional security.

An alternate option for managing disposal of incontinence pads in the home is by using a waste disposal system, similar to those used for baby diapers such as a Diaper Genie. This option can become expensive since not only do you have to buy the unit, you’ll need to purchase special replacement bags and possibly cartridges. However, they have the advantage of providing a closed container in the home which reduces trips to the outside bin and also helps contain odor.

Are Incontinence Pads Covered by Medicare?

Original Medicare (Parts A and B) does not cover incontinence supplies. However, if you or the person you are caring for has a Medicare supplemental plan, some of these supplies may be covered. Some Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans offer enhanced benefit options for products and services not covered by Medicare Parts A and B. It is always wise to check with a healthcare plan’s summary of benefits to find out whether these particular benefits are available.

Medicaid, on the other hand, is a state-run health benefits program, so some states will cover certain incontinence supplies. These benefits will vary by state, so if you qualify, you’ll need to contact your state Medicaid office to find out what your state’s guidelines are.

Bonus Tip: When you purchase online from Personally Delivered, not only are the products delivered discreetly to your door, but we also offer a 5% discount when you sign up for our automatic delivery program. Just choose this option upon checkout with the frequency you would like and you will never have to worry about running out of your incontinence pads and other medical necessities again. It is a no obligation program and you can cancel at any time.

How to Find the Right Incontinence Pads

Incontinence can be difficult to manage and the number of products available can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Our Personally Delivered Product Experts are extremely knowledgeable about the vast selection of incontinence pads we carry. Browse our incontinence pads online and if you have any questions or need assistance determining what you need, we are just a phone call away. We will help you choose the right products that will allow you to live the dignified life you deserve.

Top-Selling Incontinence Pads

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Urinary Incontinence

In short, urinary incontinence can be summed up as involuntary loss of urine.

This is usually due to the body’s inability to adequately retain urine, whether due to a nerve condition, weakened bladder or pelvic floor muscles, injury, or another medical condition. It can be temporary or in more severe cases, urinary incontinence may be permanent.

Urinary Incontinence Risk Factors

risk factors of urinary incontinence include age, weight, lifestyle, ethnicity, diet, family history

So what causes urinary incontinence?

Several risk factors exist that may factor into the onset of urinary incontinence, which include but are not limited to:

  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Hormonal changes such as menopause
  • Obesity
  • Constipation
  • Medications such as diuretics, sedatives, and others
  • Nerve damage from injury or another coexisting medical condition

Who is Affected by Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence can affect anyone of any age or gender. It’s not a condition that only affects the elderly. In fact, even children can have involuntary incontinence.

However, studies show it seems to occur more frequently among senior citizens and among women. In particular, women who are pregnant or women who have had several children seem to be more affected by urinary incontinence.

Incontinence can certainly impact one’s quality of life. For the person living with incontinence, they must not only deal with hygiene and management of their condition, but they may also be affected by social and emotional factors, such as anxiety and depression related to their incontinence.

smiling family of various ages and sexes having a picnic at a park

Incontinence Product Options

Personally Delivered Daytime and Overnight Protective Underwear packages next to each other

Urine leakage from incontinence can range from light (small losses of urine) to severe (which is typically the total inability to retain urine in the bladder). No matter the severity of your incontinence, you need to seek out a treatment option from your doctor. In addition, you’ll likely need a way to collect your urine to avoid leakage and “accidents.”

Many different types of incontinence products exist in varying absorbencies, sizes, and types to fit each person and their unique body and condition.

At present, a wide variety of home delivery incontinence supplies exist, including:

The choice of one incontinence product or a combination all depends on your specific needs and challenges, as well as your condition and your environment.

Personally Delivered has a support team of incontinence supply experts who can help you determine which products may work best for you.


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    A., Taylor, B. C., Tacklind, J. W., Rutks, I. R., & Wilt, T. J. (2008).
    Treatment interventions in nursing home residents with urinary incontinence: A
    systematic review of randomized trials. Mayo Clinic
    Proceedings, 83(12), 1332-1343.
  2. McCormick,
    A. K., Burgio, D. L., Engel, T. B., Scheve, A. & Leahy, E. (1992). Urinary
    incontinence: An augmented prompted void approach. Journal of Gerontological
    Nursing, 18(3), 3-9.
  3. Northwood,
    M. (2004). Nurses experiences’ caring for persons with incontinence. Unpublished masters’ thesis, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario,
  4. Rodriguez, N. A., Sackley, C.
    M., & Badger, F. J. (2007). Exploring
    the facets of continence care: A continence survey of care homes for older
    people in Birmingham. Journal of Clinical Nursing,
    16(5), 954-962.
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