Incontinence Pads vs Menstrual Pads: What are the Differences?

Incontinence Pads vs Menstrual Pads: What are the Differences?

  • On July 31, 2018

Many women with incontinence opt for buying sanitary pads instead of incontinence pads. This can be due to various reasons, from skimping on money to embarrassment about buying incontinence protection.

Carol, aged 52 asserts, “I am quite embarrassed buying incontinence products because it makes me feel older. I mean, if you are buying menstrual pads it implies that you are, well, young enough to have periods.” However, buying menstrual pads in place of an incontinence product can lead to various problems for women. This can include lack of odour protection, low absorbency and poor skin health. The National Association for Continence Incontinence estimates that 9.6 million women in the UK are affected by bladder problems. A study conducted by Griffith University found the worry of odour, social isolation and loneliness are the most common consequences of those with incontinence. A product can make all the difference, so it is hugely important that incontinent women understand the difference between a menstrual product and one designed especially for incontinence. Appearance-wise, the two types look fairly similar. They are both lightweight and often have an adhesive strip that sticks onto your underwear. However, the differences between the two are hugely significant.


Are you a woman suffering from incontinence? Read our blog on where to start with incontinence treatment.



The following features are present only in bladder control pads:


Super Absorbent Polymers

Incontinence pads feature tiny polymers called super absorbent polymers that expand and turn into gel as fluid touches them. This allows the pad to absorb fluid more quickly and efficiently. Even a small number of super absorbent polymers in incontinence pads offers excellent absorbency. This results in thinner, lighter and more comfortable pads. Superabsorbent polymers can absorb and retain large amounts of liquid relative to their own mass. They can also absorb liquid at an extremely high speed. The flow of a woman’s menstruation is much slower than that of urinary leakage. Menstrual pads feature lower absorption power. Although some menstrual pads state they are suitable for incontinence, most are only capable of holding 50-100ml. It would therefore actually be much cheaper in the long run to buy an incontinence pad.


Prevent Infections Caused by Urine

Some incontinence pads feature a special gel that prevents skin infections caused by long exposure to urine. If incontinence is not managed properly, it can lead to longer-term health risks, such as urinary tract infections and renal disorders, skin irritation and pressure sores. As menstrual pads do not provide the same protection for your skin against urine, you are at high risk of infection.


PH Balance to Control Odour

Incontinence pads pull urine away from the skin and neutralizes pH levels to help prevent skin irritation and eliminate odour. The deodorant masks odour in menstrual pads, whereas incontinence pads neutralize odours instead of masking them. This helps products trap and neutralise odours specific to urine. This is something that menstrual pads don’t have. Manufacturers now place a durable treatment of an odour sorbent and binder onto a layer in a protective product. The odour protection layer is often a tissue, paper towel or air laid.


Special Design Top Sheet and Distribution Layers

A top sheet and distribution layers in incontinence pads are specifically designed for the rapid flow of urine, menstrual pads feature an open design for thick liquids. The top layers of menstrual pads on the other hand are porous, allowing the gradual blood loss to be pulled away from the body. Distribution layers in incontinence pads quickly wicks fluid away, keeping you dry.


Elastic Barriers                                        

Barriers are made of non-woven material with elastic inside. This helps prevent leakage onto the skin and ensures better skin health. The non-woven material eliminates exposed poly edges, ensuring patient comfort. Menstrual pads on the other hand, do not feature elastic which makes them less efficient for preventing leakage.


You may be tempted to use menstrual pads to help with bladder leakage, but they just don’t offer the same level of protection as bladder control pads! As Sonya Meyer, national clinical educator asserts, “generally, a menstrual pad is not going to keep your skin dry, and odour can be an issue”. If incontinence is not managed properly, it can lead to longer-term health risks, such as urinary tract infections and renal disorders, skin irritation and pressure sores. Wearing the wrong product can also cause more emotional distress. Using incontinence products can help you maintain your confidence and prevent embarrassing leaks. They can also have an enormous positive impact on the quality of life of individuals suffering from incontinence. You are missing out on optimum protection by dodging incontinence products and choosing menstrual pads. Pads are available in a variety of sizes, lengths and absorbencies. Depending on your level of incontinence, you may need to try different options before finding the correct protection.


Are you new to buying incontinence products? Read our Product Guides Section for guidance on choosing a suitable product.




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