Incontinence Products FAQs

What is an incontinence product?

To manage the inability to control the bladder or bowels, an incontinence product may be needed. Depending on the severity of incontinence determines which product you choose. Finding the right product for the specific condition is the first step, then making sure it is the correct size is next. Incontinence products range from light to maximum absorbency, and only some of them can be used in conjunction with one another.

Can more than one incontinence product be used together to increase absorbency?

Besides booster pads and bed bads, chux, or underpads, all incontinence products are designed to be used by themselves. Using two incontinence products together does not always double the protection from leakage.

Incontinence products have two distinct sides. One side allows liquid to pass through, while the other side does not. This outer side is constructed of materials that help keep leakage from passing through, which helps keep the skin and clothing dry. When two products are used simultaneously, the waterproof side of one product will prevent liquid from passing through to the other. If one product isn’t providing enough protection, it’s probably time to consider a new one. There are many options available for different absorbency needs.

What is the difference between a personal care pad and a booster pad?

Booster pads for incontinence care have a flow-through design. This design allows the booster pad to fill first and then pass additional fluid to the primary incontinence garment. Booster pads are placed inside any disposable undergarment with a moisture-proof backing, such as disposable protective underwear or tab-style adult incontinence briefs. 

A Personal Care pad such as a pantyliner or light absorbency pad has a moisture-proof backing and is meant to be worn in regular underwear. Personal Care pads should not be used as a booster pad inside a primary incontinence garment because the moisture-proof backing will not allow fluid to pass through. If a personal care pad is worn in this way, it will result in urine leaking out the sides of the garment.

Rule of thumb:

Booster Pad = worn inside another absorbent product for added absorbency
Personal Care Pad = worn inside regular underwear as the only absorbent product

What is the difference between protective underwear and briefs?

Protective underwear is also sometimes referred to as pull-ups, and briefs can also be called diapers. The main difference between the two is that pull-ups require the removal of clothing when changing and diapers do not. Adult briefs or diapers feature tabs and work well for those that are lying down or immobile. Protective underwear or pull-ups work well for those that are mobile and have dexterity.


Another difference between protective underwear and briefs is that adult briefs or diapers are designed for both urine and fecal voids, whereas protective underwear is primarily meant for urine absorption. Adult briefs or diapers also accommodate booster pads better than pull-ups.

How do I know what size incontinence product to buy?

Start with measuring the largest part of your body between the waist and hip. For a more detailed description, visit Correctly Measuring Yourself for Adult Diapers and Briefs. Fitting that measurement will give you a good place to start. Remember, when fitting products, leg openings should be snug fitting with no gaps. If using a tape tab style product, those should land approximately halfway between the belly button and the hips.

How is bowel incontinence managed?

While many products effectively handle urinary incontinence, only the adult incontinence brief can manage fecal incontinence. However, if there is only slight leakage from the rear, a useful product can be the Butterfly Body Patch by Attends. This fecal incontinence pad is discreet and only capable of absorbing very light leaks.

Adult incontinence briefs provide a much larger area of protection and can absorb more than urine. No other incontinence product offers this same kind of protection, so if fecal incontinence is the condition being treated, it is highly recommended that an adult brief is chosen. Check out our Fecal Incontinence Pad page for even more information about managing bowel incontinence.

How do I manage incontinence at night?

For those with moderate to heavy incontinence who experience large voids and leakage in the nighttime, finding a super-absorbent brief or pull-on is the first step to adequate overnight protection. Booster pads are an excellent option for additional overnight protection. For even more coverage, consider a washable or disposable underpad, chux, or bed pad to protect your mattress and linens. Waterproof diaper covers can also provide extra protection around the legs and waist to stay dry throughout the night.