Disposable Incontinence Underwear – How to Make A Choice

How do sufferers of incontinence know which disposable incontinence underwear to select especially since they already find this a touchy subject?

Reading information on these products in the shopping aisle is not usually how many people would like to spend their time in stores.

This article provides information on the different kinds of disposable incontinence underwear and their absorbency levels to help you choose the most suitable before making a purchase.

What are Protective Underwear and Pants?

They are protective clothing worn like regular underwear by sufferers of incontinence. The best ones should provide excellent odor free protection, have a highly absorbent core and be equipped with anti-leak guards to help the user stay dry and fresh.

They offer a range of incontinence protection – from light to heavy, daytime wear to overnight protection and come as disposable or reusable. Many of them are discreet, non bulky, and made of breathable material.

A senior couple taking a picture seated near a pond
Senior Couple

Protective underwear and pants are designed to absorb moisture, mask odor and cause no irritation to the skin if used properly.

The pull-up incontinence underwear is usually the option preferred by most incontinence sufferers who are active because the pull-on and pull-off feature do not require tabs, straps, tapes or buttons.

These products on average, provide between 4-6 hours of protection in designs with a very absorbent core.

Types of Protective Underwear

There are two types – Reusable and Disposable


These reusable incontinence products are washable and usually made from cotton or a blend of polyester and nylon material.

These products are generally used to manage urinary or fecal incontinence and are often cheaper than the disposable counterparts.

Although they are not widely available in many stores, they can usually be bought from medical supply stores or online.


Most absorbent products on the market are disposable and designed for single-use. They are more expensive than reusable protective underwear and provide convenience.

Determine whether your preference would be a reusable or a disposable protective underwear FIRST.

Know Your Options for Disposable Incontinence Underwear

There are a wide variety of options to choose from (NAFC 2021). Your specific needs will determine your choice.


Light to Moderate Disposable Incontinence Underwear

Liners: For very light or light urinary incontinence. They are one-size-fits-all and are designed to be worn with regular underwear.

Male Shield:
For light to moderate urinary incontinence. Male Shields adhere to the front of the underwear are designed o be used with stretch mesh briefs or close-fitting underwear.

Male Guard
: For light to moderate urinary incontinence. Male Guards are pouches with elastic that provide a cup-like fit for protection and comfort, are held in place by an adhesive strip, and designed to be worn with close-fitting underwear.

Belted Undergarments:
For light to moderate urinary incontinence. The straps of these products are held in place with buttons, snaps, or Velcro.

Light to Heavy Disposable Incontinence Underwear

Bladder Control Pads: For light to heavy urinary incontinence. They are available in a variety of thicknesses and absorbency levels, and can be worn with regular underwear or reusable briefs. These products may be more susceptible to leakage

A Senior Couple With the Man Holding a Grocery Box
Grandma and Grandpa

Moderate to Heavy Disposable Incontinence Underwear

Fitted Brief with Elastic Legs: For moderate to heavy urinary incontinence. The product is a tone-piece garment with elastic at the waist and legs for a close fit and prevention of leakage. Select for daytime or nighttime use.

Unisex Protective Underwear:
For moderate urinary incontinence. They are designed with cloth-like material and have soft elastics to allow ease of pull-up or down.

Whenever possible, based on the factors used for selection, it is always better to buy gender specific incontinence products because of fitting.

Pad and Pants System: For moderate to heavy urinary incontinence. This incontinence product has a disposable pad with washable, reusable underwear or pants made of cotton or a cotton/polyester blend.

Heavy Disposable Incontinence Underwear

Adult Briefs: For heavy urinary or bowel incontinence. Often contains cloth-like breathable fabric for more complete protection and improved skin health.

Available in multiple absorbencies, and types for day and overnight use.

How to Select Best Disposable Incontinence Underwear for You

Consider these factors when selecting a disposable incontinence underwear:

Level of Incontinence Outflow

This is perhaps the single most important factor to consider – apart from – correct sizing, otherwise constant mishaps and embarrassments can happen!

Different absorbency levels exist for pull on incontinence underwear in the marketplace. These include the following levels:

  • Heavy incontinence
  • Moderate incontinence
  • Light incontinence

Usage – Daytime or Night-time

It is important to know the level of urine outflow or leakage to select the most suitable type.

Do not assume that your selection should be fixed at a single level of outflow (light, moderate or heavy) as it is not uncommon to experience heavier outflow at certain times of the day.

All incontinence products are not designed the same way. Some are used for daytime, while others are specifically designed for nighttime. Some account for heavy leakage, while others are made for those who leak just a little.

Ensure that you take this into consideration and select an option that suits your specific needs.

For example, if the outflow is heavier at night than during the day, then it is appropriate to buy a more absorbent protective undergarment for nightwear and use moderate protection during the day.


Size of the Disposable Incontinence Underwear

This is also a very important factor to consider when choosing your incontinence underwear to ensure that you get the right fit or you will not derive the necessary protective coverage.

An underwear that is too tight will be very uncomfortable, while one that is too loose will encourage leakage and similarly be uncomfortable.

Several sizes exist to provide a wide range of options – X-small, small, medium, large, X-large, XX-Large and bariatric sizes. It is generally recommended that if a size is slightly smaller and uncomfortable when used, the next larger size should be selected.

This is because there are no half sizes as one would find when shopping for shoes and you have to ensure the correct fit for comfort and leak-proof experience.

Be Gender Specific

To get the correct size, be gender-specific. Unisex brands may not work as well because men and women have different body shapes with different design needs.

Protective underwear for Women are usually form-fitting and come in a variety of feminine colors and patterns, while protective underwear for Men come in more muted colors, and often have a branded, elastic waistband which make them feel more like real masculine underwear.

Advantages of Buying Reusable and Disposable Incontinence Underwear

The National Association for Continence (NAFC) strongly recommends using an online store or a mail order service when deciding what product to purchase because of 3 main reasons:

1.Greater Selection: There are more brands and options to choose from online or from mail order retailers than from the average physical grocery or drug store.
2. Discreet
: No need to worry about embarrassing run-ins when buying the product as you can conveniently make your selection within the comfort of your home.
3. Access to Product Experts:
This can be provided if you use a mail order service and require additional assistance.


There is a wide variety of disposable incontinence underwear on the market. Finding the right one for your needs require that you do a bit of homework.

This article provides a review of factors that need to be considered before buying incontinence underwear.

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Incontinence in Seniors. A Touchy Subject

Protective Incontinence Underwear. Guide to Best Options

How to Calm an Overactive Bladder. Best Foods

Bladder Problems in older Women. A Helpful Guide


NAFC Adult Absorbent Products https://www.nafc.org/adult-absorbents

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