What is protective undergarments

Products worn under regular clothing to contain leakage of urine or stool due to incontinence. There are many designs and styles, most of which either men or women can use and some specifically styled for men or for women. These products are disposable; most are made of materials that are highly absorbent but low-bulk.

• Pads and liners are lightweight and narrow, accommodate minor urine leaks, and attach with a peel-and-stick adhesive to the inside of regular underpants.

• Guards are thicker and wider than pads or liners and offer more protection for urine leaks. They are designed primarily for women and attach to the inside of regular underpants.

• Shields are wider and longer than pads or liners, attach to regular underpants, and accommodate minor urine and stool leaks.

• Disposable underpants (such as the brand name product Depends) have absorbent padding and a leakproof exterior. Some designs pull on and off as regular underpants do, some are like oversized pads and are held in place with a special belt, and others have open sides that are sealed with tape closures. These offer maximal protection for urine and stool incontinence.

• Condom catheters are for men only. Known technically as external collection devices, catheters have a latex sheath that fits over the penis as a condom does, with a tube at the end that drains urine into a sealed collection bag usually attached to the thigh. The catheter must be changed every 24 hours to prevent skin damage.

Women sometimes use products designed for menstruation to accommodate urinary leaks. However, these products are designed for the thicker consistency of blood and do not collect or wick fluid in the same way as do products designed for urinary incontinence. Although a menstrual pad or sanitary napkin is a handy choice in a pinch as most women’s public restrooms sell them in dispensers, products designed specifically to absorb urine provide better protection and less irritation to tissues.

Product selection depends on personal preference, level of need, and level of activity. Thick pads and disposable underpants are more bulky and can interfere with movement. As well, their bulk makes them apparent under most clothing and can cause embarrassment. Some designs feature high-density absorbent materials that have less bulk, but generally less bulk means more frequent changes. Many people who use protective undergarments wear lighter products during the day and use more extensive protection at night.