Whether you’re hard at work, sweating it out at the gym, or relaxing at a wine bar, it’s frustrating when your leaks show up out of nowhere. And did you know that there are 33 million of us in the U.S. alone who share your frustration with incontinence?
But dribble dilemmas don’t have to take over your life. There are so many products out there to keep you dry while you do you — whether that’s running a marathon, raising your mini-me, or crushing it in the board room.
Ready to tell your bladder who’s boss? Let’s compare the most popular incontinence products. There are lots of choices so we’ll help you find the one that’s perfect for y-o-u.
Disposable Incontinence Pads
Many of us women rely on disposable bladder leak pads as our go-to incontinence product. Pads are affordable, easy to wear, and convenient. And hey, as women, we’re no strangers to pads in our pants. Maybe they’re right for you too?
Best for: Light to moderate coverage
- Come in lots of different thicknesses, absorbency levels, and shapes
- Can be worn for longer than reusable pads
- Allow you to move around more than disposable underwear
- Relatively affordable
- Easy to dispose of
- Can shift or leak during high-intensity activity
- Not great for heavy leaks
- Can cause skin irritation or infection for some women after wearing them for awhile (but still *much* better on that front than using regular menstrual products)
Reusable Incontinence Pads
Reusable incontinence pads are a great option for the sustainability-minded warrior who wants to make good choices for her body and for the environment. You go, eco-girl.
Best for: Light coverage
- Most affordable option over time
- Fewer potential irritants for sensitive skin
- Used pads should be hand-laundered or machine washed separately
- Some materials need bleach or strong detergent to clean odors
- Must be changed immediately after a leak because they aren’t designed to lock in fluid like disposables
- More likely to shift or leak during high-intensity activity than disposable pads
- Not available in as many length or absorbency options as disposable incontinence products
Disposable Incontinence Underwear
When you’re looking for something a bit heavier duty than a pad or something that will feel a bit more secure, disposable incontinence underwear will do the trick. Disposable underwear is also great for those times you aren’t around a bathroom for a long while, like during your commute.
Best for: Moderate to heavy leakage, or longer periods of time
- Complete coverage against multiple or higher-volume leaks
- Quality products absorb odors well
- Convenient to pack and wear
- Easy disposal
- Less comfortable than reusable underwear
- Tougher to move around than if you’re wearing a pad
- Can show through tight-fitting clothes
- Leaks sometimes leak, especially if you’re between sizes
- More expensive than disposable pads or reusable incontinence products
Reusable Incontinence Underwear
If you want some extra protection against your overactive bladder, but don’t want to compromise on style or comfort, reusable incontinence underwear is a great option. They’re also a solid choice for women with diabetes, sensitive skin, or allergies that benefit from more breathable material. But are they right for you?
Best for: Light to moderate coverage
- Comfortable to wear
- Allows for a broad range of movement
- Come in a variety of fabrics
- No slipping or bunching like a pad
- Less absorbent than disposable incontinence underwear
- Not many size options available from most manufacturers
- Most expensive option
- Used underwear should be hand-laundered or machine washed separately
- Depending on the materials used, bleach or strong detergent is necessary to remove odor
If you have stress incontinence—that is, if you leak when you laugh, sneeze, cough, or exercise—bladder supports are a great short-term solution. Bladder supports are a tampon-like product inserted into the vagina. They work by lifting and supporting your urethra and bladder, preventing leaks before they start.
Best for: Short-term use during physical activity, especially in the pool
- Easy insertion and disposal (just like a tampon!)
- Relatively comfortable to wear
- Stops leaks before they happen
- More expensive than disposable pads and underwear
- Can be more challenging to insert if you have arthritis or limited dexterity
If you’re living with pelvic prolapse, it’s important to give your bladder some extra support when you exercise. A pessary is a simple device you insert into your vagina to hold up out of your bladder.
Best for: Women with prolapsed pelvic floors or bladders, especially during exercise
- Provides full bladder support
- Works all day
- Need to get one through a doctor
- Can be uncomfortable to wear, especially during high-impact exercise
- As with bladder supports, leakage may still occur
Next Steps To Compare Incontinence Products
An over eager bladder shouldn’t get in the way of you living your life. If you’re ready to tell your bladder who’s boss, here’s what to do next:
- Experiment and see which incontinence products work best for you. Everyone’s a little different and you should get what you want. Plus, the product that works best for you during yoga class may not be the same as the one you wear at work.
- Once you find your perfect product, buy a subscription so you always have your favorites on-hand.
- If your overactive bladder is getting worse or really starting to get in the way, it’s always an option to talk to your doctor about treatments like bladder training, medication, or surgery.
Ready to tell your bladder who’s boss? Get pads and underwear for leaky laughs and dribble dilemmas delivered straight to your door from Lily Bird.