Even if your incontinence cannot be cured completely, it need not make your life a misery. There are lots of equipment and services and equipment that can help. Your doctor, practice nurse or continence adviser can give you more information.

  • Many types of disposable pads and absorbent knickers/underpants are available to suit different needs, and for men and women. For example, a more absorbent pad might be best at night, and a thinner, less absorbent pad or absorbent underpants preferable during the day.
  • If you have leakage at night, look at the section on bedwetting. In the UK, you can obtain bed protection, and a district nurse can arrange a supply of disposable or washable pads for the bed. If you are incontinent, some local authorities in the UK will collect bedlinen from your house, launder it and return it.
  • Urine becomes smelly when it has been exposed to the air for a while. You may become used to the smell and not notice it yourself. Change wet clothes and bedlinen as soon as you can, and keep them in a bucket with a lid until they can be washed. Open your bedroom window to air it thoroughly every day. Put wet, disposable pads or knickers into a plastic bag, seal it firmly with a rubber band and put it into an outside dustbin as soon as possible.
  • Wear clothes that are easy to manage when you go to the toilet in a hurry. For example, stockings or hold-ups are easier than tights. Tight skirts, or trousers with a tricky fastening, can cause delays.
  • Perhaps your toilet could be made easier for you, especially if you are elderly. Grab rails fixed to the wall, or free-standing around the toilet, will help you to balance. If you have arthritic hips, a raised seat to the toilet will help.
  • Do not endanger yourself by rushing to the toilet if you are unsteady. Research has shown that elderly people who need to rush to the toilet are more likely to fall and fracture a bone than those who do not have a urine problem. Better to have wet underwear than a broken hip.
  • If you are a man, a plastic urine bottle (urinal) by your bed is very helpful. It can also be used when you are sitting in a chair, though this may seem difficult at first. Plastic urinals are also available for women but are more awkward to use. Make sure that you empty and rinse out the urinal as soon as possible.
  • Consider a commode if you cannot reach your toilet easily. This is a special chair that contains a bucket in its seat. Some designs have a lid, so they look like a normal chair.
  • A very few people will require a catheter. This is a small tube passed into the bladder through the urethra. The urine empties down the catheter into a disposable bag that is secured to the thigh and hidden under skirts or trousers.


First published on: embarrassingproblems.com
Reviewed and edited by: Dr Diane Newman
Last updated: October 2020

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