What are my alternatives to adult diapers ?

Let’s face facts – when you have urinary incontinence (UI) or bladder leakage adult diapers can make the difference between participating in life or sitting on the sidelines.   If you have needed to use them you know they play a role yet wearing them is an experience you would rather avoid. 

Most patients try several different treatment solutions and product options before finding the right solution for them and there are many incontinence products available.  The key is to find the solution that provides you with the best possible control from leakage while also being comfortable, convenient to use, and most importantly discrete so that you can enjoy a good quality of life.  So let’s crack on and explore the various solutions available to you!

First, it’s important to note that of the 3.3 million Canadians that suffer from UI 2/3 are female (2.2 million) and 1/3 (1.1 million) are male and UI can be classified into three broad categories: 

•    Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is defined as leakage associated with exertion, sneezing, or coughing
•    Urgency urinary incontinence (UUI) is leakage immediately preceded by or associated with a sudden desire to void
•    Mixed urinary incontinence (MUI) is characterized by the combination of UUI and SUI

If you aren’t sure of which type you are experiencing based on the above descriptions, its advisable to see your doctor.

Like many medical conditions, urinary incontinence is managed by healthcare professionals using a stepwise approach, beginning with behavior modifications, and ending with surgery for some.  This article focuses on the options except for surgery which is best discussed with your doctor. 

Behavior modification.  
There are several behavior modifications1 to help manage UI and often these work well when combined with one of the solutions mentioned further below in this article.

1)    Manage your fluid intake. A bladder is like a balloon filled with water, with a rubber band (the urethral sphincter muscle) wrapped around the neck. If the balloon is really full and you squeeze it, the water will leak or squirt out.  It is best to keep your fluid intake in the range of 48 to 64 ounces per day. That’s just six to eight 8-ounce glasses. Spread your fluid intake throughout the day.

2)    Limit caffeine Caffeine causes your body to make more urine faster.  Try to minimize or even stop your caffeine intake or limit your intake to 8 ounces per day.

3)    Train your bladder.  If you need to urinate frequently, you can treat this with bladder training. Bladder training involves spacing out your voids. So if you currently urinate every hour, make yourself wait 1 1/2 hours before your next trip to the bathroom. Once you can do that easily, make yourself wait two hours, and so on. Your goal should be three to four hours between urinating. This may take several months to achieve.

Pelvic floor exercises.  
Most health professionals will recommend pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the muscles in your pelvis. When you perform pelvic floor exercises, also called Kegels, you tighten up, or contract, the pelvic floor muscles as if you need to prevent gas from escaping. You should feel the contraction more in the back (near the anus) than in the front.

When you Kegel, the muscles pull up tissue under the urethra and help to keep the urethra closed when pressure hits the bladder. The trick is you need to Kegel before the pressure hits the bladder. This means if you are going to sneeze, you need to tighten at the moment you are inhaling. This takes practice, and it may take two to four months before you see a difference.  It is helpful to do approximately 30 Kegels every day. You can do 10 in a row (hold each Kegel for five to 10 seconds), three times every day.1  

Adult pads, diapers, and briefs.   
Yes, you are looking for alternatives to adult diapers however they do play an important role in managing male incontinence and are made in various styles, including those resembling traditional child diapers (attached with side tabs), underpants (protective underwear, pull-ups or pull on), and pads resembling sanitary napkins (known as incontinence pads or bladder control pads).  

Since you are looking for alternatives to adult diapers you know more than most that while they contain leaks many find them uncomfortable, inconvenient and embarrassing to use and there can be smell or odor.  

Penile clamps.
A penile clamp is a device that is placed halfway down the shaft and when in place and closed, it compresses the urethra so that urine cannot escape.  There are many varieties of penile clamps available.   While they can work for the short term, users complain of discomfort or pinching, that they can fall off.  They are intended for short-term use as long-term use can cause blood flow issues which is to be avoided.

External condom catheters.  
A condom catheter is a urine storage device that can be used to treat short-term incontinence in men. It consists of a flexible sheath that fits over the penis just like a condom. The condom catheter is rolled onto the penis and attached to it using double-sided adhesive, a jockey-type strap or a foam strap. The catheter is connected to a tube that drains the urine into a drainage bag.  As expected, these aren’t great for people who are particularly active but they can serve a role.

Urethral inserts.  
Urethral inserts, like Contino, are non-surgical, self-administered medical devices that are inserted into the urethra to provide bladder leakage control.   Urethral inserts allow users to keep urine in the bladder vs against the skin in a diaper or pad and they don’t pinch like a clamp.  Some individuals find the notion of a penile insert intimidating however health professionals teach patients to use these devices and many compare learning similar to learning contact lenses….they are a bit tricky at first but then they become simple to use.  Click here to learn more about the Contino® urethral insert.

So there you have it! 

We have broken down a summary of each in a comparison chart below including the average monthly costs for each.  If you have more questions you can always book an appointment with Contino® support to learn more! 

1 https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/4-behavioral-changes-to-tame-urinary-incontinence-2019071017201

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