Continence products help manage the symptoms of poor bladder and bowel control. They may be used for a short time during treatment. They can also be used long term if poor bladder and bowel control can’t be cured.
There are a wide range of products to help manage bladder or bowel control problems. Continence nurse advisors can help choose the right product for you that will give you the most protection and that you can rely on with confidence.
Your doctor or continence nurse advisor can also look for the cause of your problem and offer you some treatment. If you do not try any treatment or if you just use pads or other continence products without getting advice, the problem could get worse.
Absorbent pads and pants:
Disposable pads and pants:
Reusable pads and pants:
Make sure you change your continence product regularly
Also clean and dry your skin every time you change.
This is important to:
Absorbent bed pads and chair pads:
Penile sheaths for men
Some men prefer to use a penile sheath drainage system (also known as condom drainage) instead of a pad. The sheath fits closely over the penis and is connected to a drainage leg bag which collects the urine.
A larger drainage bag can be used overnight. A continence nurse advisor needs to carefully assess any man thinking about using a penile sheath. It is important to use the right product and to get information about proper care. Penile sheaths are better for men with moderate to heavy urine loss.
A catheter is a hollow tube that drains urine directly from the bladder. There are several types of catheterisation techniques:
The short, long term and suprapubic catheters drain into a drainage bag or can be connected to a valve. The catheter is connected to a leg bag during the day and a larger drainage bag overnight. Catheters are only used if absolutely necessary and are prescribed by a doctor or specialist.
If confined to bed:
If you have restricted mobility:
The best product is one that:
When choosing a continence product, you should think about:
1. Your personal bladder or bowel control problem
Your choice of product depends on your own control needs at any one time. Choose a product that:
2. Your personal lifestyle
This should guide your choice of products. You need to consider your personal needs for:
You might need special products to use when you:
Continence nurse advisors can help with advice on special products.
3. Your mobility
There is a vast range of products and one that is just right for you. Think about your habits and abilities. This can help to guide the right choice of product for you.
4. Supply of products
Some continence products can be bought in supermarkets and chemists. It is easier to buy others from specialist medical suppliers. You might need expert help to choose the right supplier for you.
Contact the National Continence Helpline 1800 33 00 66.
They can give you advice. They can also give you the contact details for a continence nurse advisor in your area.
Most disposable products can be thrown away in normal household rubbish. Continence products should never be flushed down the toilet.
Continence products can be costly. In most cases you will need to pay for them yourself. If you have permanent and severe incontinence you may be able to get funding to help cover some costs of continence products.
The Continence Aids Payment Scheme (CAPS) may be able to help. You can find out if you are eligible by going to bladderbowel.gov.au
The Department of Veterans’Affairs (DVA)
DVA manages the Rehabilitation Appliances Program. You may get help from DVA if you hold a Gold Card or eligible White Card.
State and Territory Government Services
Some state and territory governments provide services to support people who are incontinent. This support sometimes includes continence products. These services vary between states and territories. Services may include client assessment, education and support.
Assessing if you are eligible to get funding
In most cases you will need to seek help from a health professional.
Contact the National Continence Helpline 1800 33 00 66 to get advice about continence services and support that may be available to you.
You are not alone. Poor bladder and bowel control can be cured or better managed with the right treatment. If you do nothing, it might get worse.
Phone expert advisors on the National Continence Helpline for free:
1800 33 00 66* (8am–8pm Monday to Friday AEST)
To arrange for an interpreter through the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National), phone 13 14 50 Monday to Friday and ask for the National Continence Helpline. Information in other languages is also available from continence.org.au/other-languages
* Calls from mobiles are charged at applicable rates.