Ladies Incontinence Pants: What to Look For…

TEAM KNIX / STYLE WELLNESS

For women who experience urinary incontinence, it can be a difficult journey. 

First, there’s the obvious medical concern, which will give rise to questions like:

Then, there’s the more emotional and lifestyle concern, which comes with living with urinary incontinence. This includes things like:

  • How can I stay active and social when I’m worried about having “accidents”?
  • Are there ways to manage the moisture and odour caused by bladder leaks?
  • Is there an alternative to diapers and rubber incontinence pants?

Female urinary incontinence is exceptionally common and can happen to women at any stage of life, it is still something that may cause a sense of stigma or shame. You might feel “old”, even though incontinence can affect both young and old. It’s worth noting that many women experience temporary light bladder leaks at certain life stages (e.g. pregnancy, recovery from childbirth or even after difficult surgeries), though there are more persistent forms too.

While you pursue the medical questions with your healthcare provider, you can depend on lifestyle products to help you manage the day-to-day reality of living with incontinence. Chief among those products is incontinence underwear or pants. We’re going to look at some of the features you should look for when choosing the right incontinence underwear or pants for your situation.

8 Features to Look for in Incontinence Underwear or Ladies Incontinence Pants

1. The Right Absorbency Level

The amount of urine you’re leaking will be the biggest determining factor for the kind of incontinence underwear you need. For example, super absorbent Knix Leakproof Underwear can hold up to 8 tsp of liquid (whether that’s sweat, blood or urine). 

However, if you require more absorption than that or experience fecal as well as urinary incontinence, you may want to look at disposable incontinence products for even greater absorbency levels.

2. “Normal” Underwear Appearance

Ideally, you should not notice any difference between your favourite underwear and your incontinence underwear. There should be no unnecessary bulkiness that impacts your ability to wear your favourite clothing or form-fitting workout gear. As much as possible, look for options that will help you feel comfortable and confident  in your body and clothing.

3. Odour Neutralizing Underwear

An important feature of incontinence underwear is that it can neutralize that “ammonia” smell of urine. Look for products that have neutralizing odour technology to mask the smell and traps it away from your body.

4. Moisture Wicking

Connected with odour neutralizing is moisture-wicking. You definitely do not want to feel “wet” in your underwear, be it from blood, sweat or urine. Products that trap moisture away from your body will help ensure you both feel comfortable and that your skin does not become irritated by moisture.

5. Reusable Over Disposable

We’re all trying to cut down on the number of disposable products we use, whether it’s period products or grocery bags, coffee cups or paper towels. Incontinence products can be incredibly wasteful when they are disposable. So, if it’s appropriate for your needs (and absorbency level), choose reusable products over something that creates both the waste and the expense of disposable products.

6. Fit and Style Options

Wherever possible, look for options that align with your personal style preferences. This includes the fit of the underwear (styles like briefs, boyshorts, thongs etc) and the color and pattern options. For you to feel comfortable in your underwear, it should blend right in with your existing style choices. There’s no reason you have to suddenly switch to oversized granny pants, if that’s not your style (though we have absolutely nothing against granny pants - they happen to be supremely comfortable!)

7. No “Rustling” or “Squeaking” Noises

Disposable paper products or rubber underwear can make noises when you move about in them. This will probably add to your self-consciousness. So unless you need to choose these products for another reason, look for options that are as silent as regular underwear.

8. An All-in-One Underwear Product (if Possible)

In an ideal world, you can buy ONE product (like Knix Leakproof Underwear) to manage your bladder leaks. Other products often require additional (and ongoing) purchases. For example, if you choose rubber incontinence pants, you still need to buy pads or disposable diapers to wear beneath them. Again, for some cases this might be wholly necessary. But if you don’t need to go there, stick with the convenience of an all-in-one product.

Understand the Type of Incontinence You Have

The right incontinence pants for you may depend on the type of incontinence you’re experiencing. In order of what’s most common, here are the 5 types of female urinary incontinence:

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Type of Incontinence

How / When it Manifests

Some Possible Causes

Treatment May Include

Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence is urine loss during physical exertion, whether it be exercise or more physical reactions like coughing, sneezing, laughing etc.

  • Childbirth
  • Trauma from surgery (e.g. hysterectomy)
  • Weak bladder muscles
  • Weak pelvic floor muscles 
  • Menopause
  • Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises) to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles
  • Surgery

Urge Incontinence

An impossible-to-ignore urge to urinate, even if you just went or felt fine just minutes before.

  • Neurological conditions like Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Overactive bladder (OAB)
  • Pregnancy
  • Childbirth
  • Menopause
  • Trauma to the bladder and urethra from surgery
  • Weak bladder muscles
  • Weak pelvic floor muscles 
  • Biofeedback therapy
  • Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises) to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles
  • Surgery

Mixed Incontinence

A combination of stress and urge incontinence.

  • The same causes as stress and urge incontinence
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Medication
  • Bladder botox injections

Overflow Incontinence

If the flow of urine “dribbles” or is unsteady, you may have overflow incontinence. The inability to completely empty your bladder can lead it to overflow and cause unexpected urine leaks.

  • Weak bladder muscles
  • Underactive bladder
  • Blockages in the urinary tract
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Surgery to remove blockages
  • Use of catheter

Functional Incontinence

This is when you experience urine loss, but the cause is not associated with any problems with the urinary system.

  • Neurological or psychological problems or conditions
  • Physical impairments like spinal cord injuries
  • Nursing assistance
  • Changing physical settings
  • Medications and therapies to address underlying medical condition

For example, if you have functional incontinence, rubber incontinence pants may well be the best option for you. However, other forms of light bladder leaks may be easily managed with a product like Knix Leakproof Underwear.

Work with Your Doctor to Explore Treatment Options

Once your healthcare provider has determined the cause of your bladder leaks, they’ll be able to recommend a treatment plan or provide treatment options. While leakproof underwear is amazing for helping you manage the day-to-day realities of light bladder leaks, you should also explore treatments that might offer a more permanent solution. 

These may include:

1. Reducing Your Risk Factors

Urinary incontinence risk factors include:

  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Family history
  • Other diseases (e.g. diabetes, MS, Parkinson’s Disease)
  • Having been through pregnancy and childbirth
  • Having undergone certain pelvic surgeries (e.g. hysterectomy)
  • Dementia 

2. Adjusting Your Diet and Beverage Intake

Foods to avoid include:

  • Sweeteners, including corn syrup, honey and artificial sweeteners
  • Spicy foods
  • Acidic foods, like citrus fruits and tomatoes

Beverages to avoid include:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Carbonated beverages

3. Trying Pelvic Floor Muscle Training to Strengthen Pelvic Floor Muscles

Pelvic floor exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum. Kegel or pelvic floor exercises can be done any time, either sitting or lying down. You can even do them when you are eating, sitting at your desk, or when you are resting.

4. Taking Preventative Measures Against Urinary Tract Infections

Incontinence is one symptom of urinary tract infection (UTI). Another symptom is a stinging or burning sensation when you pee and a decreased or irregular flow of urine. Ways to prevent UTIs include:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Urinate before and after having sex
  • Wipe from front to back after you pee
  • Wear breathable, natural underwear and clothing, changing your underwear daily

5. Eating Plenty of Fibre to Avoid Constipation

Straining on the toilet can weaken (or further weaken) your pelvic floor muscles. So it’s best to make sure your diet is rich in fibre to avoid constipation. Exercise (even the gentlest of walks done regularly) can also help prevent constipation.

6. Trying Bladder Training and/or Double Voiding

Bladder training involves taking bathroom breaks at regularly timed intervals. By ensuring your bladder is emptied frequently, you minimize the chances of leakages. Over time, the duration of time between breaks can be increased. 

You can also try double voiding: Before bedtime, go to the bathroom and then wait 10 minutes (perhaps brush your teeth etc. in the interim) and then pee again. Using the bathroom several times before bed will help ensure your bladder is empty.

7. Other Treatments Your Doctor Might Explore

Beyond these lifestyle changes and depending on the severity of your case, your doctor might want to explore more medical treatments. These may include:

  • Vaginal pessary or urinary insert
  • Botox
  • Medications
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Surgical options for urinary incontinence may include:

  • Sling procedure
  • Injectable bulking agents
  • Retropubic colposuspension