Urinary incontinence affects more than 30% of women. Staying dry and cleaning up after accidents is expensive. The average annual cost of pads, laundry, and dry cleaning for a woman with urinary incontinence is $900 a year.

Many women are not getting the best protection for their money because they chose menstrual pads over incontinence pads. The problem? Menstrual pads are designed for a different need. Menstrual pads are inferior for keeping urine away from the skin, and being wet throughout the day can lead to skin irritation (as well as being terribly uncomfortable).

Why do women chose menstrual pads over a product designed specifically for incontinence? Several factors are probably involved:

  • Women are more familiar with menstrual pads
  • Some are embarrassed buying incontinence products because it makes them feel old. I mean if you are buying menstrual pads it implies that you are, well, young enough to have periods.
  • Many are embarrassed by their incontinence. If you are buying menstrual pads no one suspects incontinence.
  • A lot of women simply don’t know incontinence pads will do a better job keeping them dry.

Choosing the right pad is essential to getting the best protection, but all incontinence pads are not created equal. Researchers put ten different incontinence pads through a series of tests and according to this study there are the better performers when it comes to staying dry and interestingly, brand name products performed better than generics, but of course cost more. The incontinence underwear was the worst performer for keeping moisture inside the pad.

Serenity is now part of the TENA line, so the pad are now called TENA extra light, TENA extra etc.

Every woman has different needs so trying several different products might be necessary to find the best fit and protection for the right price. A couple of the manufacturers offer samples and coupons (TENA free samples, Poise free samples) so it’s possible to try a couple of the brand-name top performers for free.

Menstrual pads are cheaper and yes, they are associated with the under-50 set; however, they are inferior to incontinence pads when it comes to urine. Using a menstrual pad for urinary incontinence may actually be more expensive in the long run if it leads to more laundry, dry cleaning, and trips to the doctors’ office. In addition, the right product can dramatically improve quality of life and it is hard to place a price tag on that.

There is no reason to be ashamed of incontinence pads, but if picking them up at the store is just too much to swallow, you can always order them on-line.

For more info: Incontinence information from NIH

Join the Conversation


  1. “Some are embarrassed buying incontinence products because it makes them feel old. I mean if you are buying menstrual pads it implies that you are, well, young enough to have periods.”
    HAR HAR HAR! I started having to cross my legs when sneezing when I was 30. Here I am 52 and still on my periods. There’s a lot of overlap! If I can go up to a young guy and buy tampons, I guess I’m going to have to get used to buying both types at the same time.

  2. hi i would like to know what type of pad is suitable for my daughter who is having spina bifida and she is 5 years old .please let me know how to order this product and i would like to know about cloth pads also.

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