Incontinence sufferers

Incontinence can dramatically change an individual’s ability to participate in every day life. It is a condition that will be experienced by more than a quarter of all women at some stage of their life and by nearly a fifth of older men. Some 55 percent of female residents in long term care facilities in Europe are incontinent.

Incontinence can:

  • Cause isolation,
  • Result in depression and physiological problems
  • Prohibit social activity
  • Prohibit active participation in the workforce.

There is a wide product range of single-use adult incontinence products designed to meet the needs of people of all ages and both sexes; enabling users to:

  • Maintain a sense of dignity
  • Be confident that they will not experience leakage
  • Work and/or take part in social activities 
  • Be confident about odour control
  • Maintain hygiene and cleanliness
  • Maintain independence
  • Protect skin health, as products that are highly absorbent and use ‘breathable’ materials reduce skin wetness. See report on skin health and hygiene benefits of absorbent hygiene products.


Caring for a relative, friend or patient who is incontinent is often a distressing and difficult thing to do. 

Single-use incontinence products:

  • Save valuable carer time in changing and disposing of products allowing more time for other important caring activities
  • Make changing a less difficult process
  • Reduce costs by limiting the need for care of infections and bed sores caused by wetness and leakage
  • Reduce costs and time in washing soiled clothes and bed linen. 

The use of wipes in public institutions can reduce the amount of time spent on cleaning and washing cleaning materials and as a result can leave staff with more time to spend on their caring responsibilities.

For more information on the quality of life benefits offered by absorbent hygiene products, see the report on the social dimensions of sustainability.

What people say

“If a pad didn’t hold urine, then I won’t be able to go to work…” 

Research interviewee

“Discreteness of a pad means a huge amount. You don’t want people to see it; you’d be really embarrassed if people knew you had a bladder problem.”

Research interviewee

“It’s vital to be able to carry on with everyday life. Knowing that the pad will hold urine gives you security so allows you to do things. If the pad leaks then you stop doing things. It’s easy to lose confidence in yourself and stop doing everyday activities.”

Research interviewee

“What would be very beneficial would be evidence-based guidelines for practitioners on the performance of difference incontinence products such as their absorbency, leakage and odour control and also effects on quality of life. This would help shape purchasing policies to reflect what is most beneficial to the user.”

Dr Mandy Fader, Continence Technology and Skin Health Group, University of Southampton, UK

“Concerns about contamination of patients with bacteria which cause septicaemia are very high indeed in the UK health service and amongst the public in general. Any tool, including disinfectant wipes, that can be employed to keep hospitals and other institutions clear of such bacteria would be welcomed by health managers.”

Dr Colin Michie, Senior Consultant Lecturer in Paediatrics, Ealing NHS Trust, UK

Did you know

Men suffering from medium to heavy incontinence show a preference for diaper designs over pads primarily because they perform better but also because they are less like menstrual pads and are not therefore associated with feminine hygiene products.

While menstrual pads are not necessarily as effective as incontinence pads designed specifically for the condition, women will often opt to use them because they are less expensive and their purchase does not indicate an incontinence problem.

Modern incontinence products can make the difference between sufferers being able to stay in their own home or needing to move to residential care.

Long term care is often accompanied by medium to heavy incontinence; modern patient care today is unthinkable without well performing incontinence products.

Product innovation brings real benefits, for example incontinence pants that can be used like normal underwear. Patients suffering from the early stages of conditions such as dementia are able to go to the toilet again on their own, saving time, laundry and staff costs while restoring dignity for the patient.