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When it comes to incontinence there are a lot of options for absorbent products, and buying the wrong ones can get costly. Recognizing when the products you are using are not working for you can help save headache and expense.

Sometimes a product works well for a while, but needs change. What would cause your absorbent needs to change? There are a number of factors that can contribute to a change in your incontinence. For many men who have had prostate surgery, incontinence gradually lessens as time passes and the muscles strengthen. Thus, right after surgery they may need a pull-on style absorbent product, but can transition down to a guard, and eventually nothing.

So when should you make a switch? Changing incontinence products is a personal decision that should be made with the help of a doctor or caregiver. The best way to determine if you need a different product is to evaluate the effectiveness of your current product. Make a switch:

  • If you feel discomfort.
  • If you are not getting the protection you need.
  • If you are getting too much protection.
  • If you are not getting the discretion you want.
  • If another option would work better for your situation.

In order to get the best protection, at the best value, evaluate the level of incontinence, your needs, and find products that give you the right fit and coverage. To do this, you must understand what your product options are, and which products would best suit your body type, your gender, and your absorbency needs.

Incontinence products range from the brief or adult diaper, which is the most absorbent option, to pads and liners, which are for light incontinence. Let’s take a look at what options exist:

Briefs/adult diapers: These are designed for men and women. They offer the highest level of protection and absorbency for those with heavy to complete loss of bladder and bowel control. These offer tape tabs for removal by caregivers, and ease of use.

Disposable pull-on undergarments: These are similar to an adult diaper or brief, but pull up and down like traditional underwear, and provide protection for moderate to heavy incontinence. They offer cloth-like stretch panels for superior comfort, and tear away sides for easy removal.

Boxers:  These are stylized pull-ons.  They are for men who want the look and feel of regular, boxer-style underwear with as much absorbency as a pull-on option. These are awesome for discretion as they look and feel like boxers.

Adjustable underwear: This is another absorbent product that is designed for both men and women. They have tabs to reposition and adjust for fit. They also offer tear away sides for easy changing. They are great for moderate incontinence.

Undergarments: These are designed for more than a light leak, but not a full void. They are held in place with an elastic strap, and fasten with buttons and straps.

Booster pads and inserts: They are exactly what they sound like, a way to boost protection. These are pads designed to offer extra protection to other incontinence products. They are not to be used alone, but in conjunction with disposable underwear, briefs, etc.

Pads and Guards: These are designed for light bladder leakage: the pad adheres to cloth underwear with an adhesive strip, and can be used with disposable underwear. Pads are for women, and some are designed with specific body types in mind, these are different from period pads, but are used the same way. Guards are the male version of the pad.

It can be hard to know if a different product, brand, style, size, or absorbency would work better for you, and buying case after case of product, only to find they are not what you need is expensive. Instead, consider ordering samples of a product before ordering by the case.  If you need more help finding the right product for your needs, you can call the CareGiver Partnership’s hotline at 1-800-985-1353 or online (

About R.O.S Therapy Systems: R.O.S. Therapy Systems began as a backyard project in 2010. Scott Silknitter was searching for tools to help his mother care for his father, Roger Owen Silknitter, during a 25-year fight with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. That project became a personal mission to help all family caregivers. From family caregiver training and activity books to mobile apps to activity systems, R.O.S. has grown to become a single-source provider of informational “how to’s” and a growing provider of adaptive tools for the millions of husbands, wives, children, and family members that become caregivers.

Common sense advice and instruction based on proven principles of communication, engagement, and daily living are the heart of everything R.O.S. offers for family caregivers. Improving quality of life for caregivers is our mission, and designing everything for a family caregiver struggling with a loved one is the starting point. Whether it is dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke, visual impairment, developmental disabilities, or any other issue that forces someone to care for a loved one, R.O.S. and its Caregiving 101 program are here to help.