Best Way to Choose
Incontinence Pads

Posted by Brianna Maguire on Nov 13th 2020

If you’re experiencing incontinence and need a light, discreet solution, pads could be just what you need. These form-fitting, absorbent pads keep you dry, confident, and healthy. Whether you’re recovering from surgery, post-partum, or just leaking a little when you laugh, these pads protect your skin and clothing.

Learn about:

What are incontinence pads?

Incontinence pads are absorbent products that you place inside underwear to capture incontinence. Some have an adhesive strip that fastens the pad to underwear, but the larger pads easily stay in place without one. Shaped to fit against the body, these are a discreet option for those that need incontinence protection.

What kind of incontinence pads are there?

An absorbent pad that rests inside underwear and captures incontinence, these come in many shapes, sizes, and designs.

Shaped to fit around a penis, male guards are form-fitting and stick inside of underwear to absorb moisture.

Designed to wear inside an existing incontinence product, these provide an extra boost of absorbency. Once the pad is full, moisture passes through to the next product.

Belted pads or belted undergarments feature a long, thick pad and two straps (the “belt”) that fasten the pad to the body. Since these are more absorbent than traditional pads, they’re more like pull-ups or tab-style diapers without the sides.

Bowel pads are specially shaped to capture even high-pressure bowel incontinence, and light urinary incontinence.

Pant liners are very large and highly absorbent pads that ideal for bariatric users or those with heavier incontinence needs.


To decide if a pad type is right for you, check out its specific information - pads come in all shapes and sizes, and work for unique situations.

How do they work?

Pads have tiny absorbent beads in the core that capture moisture and turn it into a gel, so that you feel dry. Many pads have a special kind of polymer that stops urine from becoming ammonia, to prevent odors. Most pads have a plastic backing or inner layer that stops moisture from escaping into underwear, so your clothes and skin stay dry.

What features exist?

Odor control

Some pads have “odor guards,” which are pH balanced and work by eliminating ammonia (the “smelly” part of urine). 

Adhesive backing

Smaller pads feature “‘adhesive backing” which keep the pad from moving out of place. Don’t be alarmed by larger pads without adhesive - they’re typically big enough that they stay in place on their own.

Inner leg guards

If a pad has “inner leg guards,” that means it has two ridges that run along either side and help keep urine inside.

Range of length

Some pads are shorter than others! Be sure you look for a length that will fit snugly inside your underwear without poking out the sides. Longer pads also tend to be more absorbent.

Range of thickness

Thinner pads tend to be more discreet, while thicker pads tend to be more absorbent.

Plus-sized fit

If a pad has a “contoured fit” or an “hourglass shape,” that means it has wider front and back panels. These work best for plus-sized users.

Can I put a pad inside of a pull-up or diaper?

You should never put a pad inside of a pull-up, or diaper, unless it’s a booster pad.

Because bladder pads have plastic backing, urine will never make it through to the pull-up or diaper. Instead, it will leak out the sides.

If you want more protection:

  • Look for a higher absorbency. Our absorbent products come in extremely absorbent varieties, so you never need more than one product - you just need to look for something that’s more absorbent.
  • If you really need something more affordable, you can add a booster padBooster pads allow urine to pass through the pad and into the product beneath, so they can be used with other products. Still, we don’t recommend using more than one booster pad at a time, and you’re always best-off to just go with a higher absorbency product.

How do I choose?

  1. First, decide which kind of pad works best for your needs.
  2. Decide which absorbency you’ll need. For occasional leaks when you laugh, a light absorbency will do the trick. For heavier voids, you’ll need a higher absorbency
  3. Figure out which length you’d prefer. Remember that longer pads are typically more absorbent, and shorter pads are more discreet. Be sure you choose a pad that comfortably fits in your underwear (without poking out the sides)
  4. Need more help? Our friendly Care Team members are product experts who love to help. Call us at 855-855-1666.

Carewell's recommendations

Our customers love pads from brands like TranquilityTENAPrevailSelect, and Attends.

For overnight incontinence, we recommend:

These extremely absorbent pads offer even overnight protection from urinary incontinence, for men and women.

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For heavy incontinence, we recommend:

Offering super absorbent protection without being bulky, these pads are ideal for anyone that experiences continuous bladder leakage - day or night.

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For moderate protection, we recommend:

Prevail Pads, Moderate

Ideal for anyone with moderate urinary incontinence, these are designed for women and feature odor-guards QUICK WICK technology that wicks wetness away, so you feel dry.

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For light protection, we recommend:

TENA Very Light Bladder Leakage Liners

Discreet, comfortable, and with built-in odor protection, these are ideal for anyone that experiences occasional leaks and needs a solution that won’t disrupt their daily life.

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Brittany's pro-tips

  1. Never use a menstrual pad when you need a bladder pad! Urine flows much more quickly, and menstrual pads cannot keep up with the volume
  2. We recommend a full-coverage underwear if you’re going with one of our larger pads
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