Before I go any further, I want to warn any potential readers that this piece is about a subject that most people have no desire to think, let alone talk about. No, I’m not talking about Brad and Angelina getting back together; I am talking about bladder leakage and incontinence issues. Some of the copy may make you a little squeamish but I invite you to join me on the journey I took in experiencing adult diapers.
Incontinence affects an estimated 20-25 million adults in the US with 75-80% being women who experience bladder problems often as a result of pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. It can have a significant impact on quality of life, with frequent urges to urinate, worrying about the next bathroom stop is and not being able to enjoy the pleasures of sex.
Fortunately some inroads have been made in dealing with incontinence using electrical stimulation, surgery, medical devices and companies like UROSPOT that restore a woman’s pelvic floor.
For most people dealing with this issue, the use of absorbent pads helps ease the discomfort and inconvenience of leaking urine. Attends®, TENA® and Depends® are some of the more popular brands marketing to both those needing the product personally and to caregivers who are often providing care to a parent or a spouse/partner.
Unfortunately incontinence is a taboo subject that the vast majority of people (other than urologists) don’t want to talk about. Having a leaking bladder can be viewed as an embarrassing condition, so it’s not surprising that purchasing adult diapers can create stress and anxiety for the buyer at retail
So how do marketers of incontinence products reduce the stigma associated with this condition? I don’t know the answer but one idea that might help is to change the name of the category. Currently I see the following descriptors being used to define these products:
- Adult diapers
- Absorbent Pads
- Adult Briefs
- Disposable Underwear
If I had to choose one I guess I would go with “Adult Briefs”, but I’m wondering if some crowdsourcing could pull in some less off-putting options. Suggestions welcomed!
Another way to reduce the taboo nature of the category is to let people (primarily non-users) know what it is really like to wear and “use” these products. Let’s face it, unless you have actually worn one, you have no idea what it would be like.
To that end, I decided it was time for me to “test-drive” disposable underwear. I see a future in testing and reviewing products and services targeting older adults and I thought the best place to start was with a relatively tough category. If I could do this one, most future trials should be relatively painless – right?
The first logical step was to get a hold of some product. I considered buying some at the local CVS but I wasn’t sure what I would do with the extra product — do I ask friends if they have an issue and then offer up the rest of the pack? No, I think not! Instead I ordered a sample pack from TENA® and waited for a delivery that never came. Brutal. Then I found a relatively new brand called Because and ordered their free* trial pack (*note that they had the nerve to ask me to pay the $2.99 shipping cost!). It arrived a few days later with a few men’s briefs and some wipes to use after use. I was set to go!
There were no usage instructions inside so I was left on my own to figure things out, including which side was the front and which was the back (it wasn’t as obvious as you might think). I think I made the right choice but to be honest, I’m still not sure. I proceeded to try them on and let’s just say they did not have the nice cotton feel I am accustomed to. The fabric feels more like thick tissue paper and is quite bulky. It also left me wondering what it would feel like once I created some leakage. I will spare you the visual here but I do offer a sneak peek on my Instagram post.
Before getting to my review of the product, an interesting thing happened. Several of my friends who had seen my Instagram posts were quite interested in what it was like to actually use the product. Like me, they didn’t need it right now but were curious about my experience should they have to wear them in the future. This just reinforces my point that brands have not done a good job at taking consumers through the actual product experience and setting appropriate expectations.
So let’s get to the heart of the story – what is it like to wear disposable underwear?
My first observation after putting them on under shorts is that they are very bulky and not what I would call tight-fitting — I wasn’t expecting them to feel like “tighty-whities” but they are looser fitting than boxer shorts. They were fine for the shorts I was wearing but would not have been comfortable with more tapered shorts or pants. And they would definitely not be flattering if worn under anything that was tighter-fitting as it would be difficult to hide the many fabric lines.
Content warning: product usage details below!
The next step in the process was the most interesting as I had to will myself to urinate into the diaper. This was quite interesting as you can probably imagine as we spend most of our lives trying to ensure that we don’t “pee ourselves”. And before I could let go, so to speak, I was stressed as I had no idea how much volume the product would hold. This is something that they don’t tell you and the last thing that I wanted to do was overdo it or overfill on my first try.
With this in mind, I let myself go and peed (a little bit at first) into the diaper. A weird experience for sure as I felt the liquid immediately being absorbed into the pad. I felt that additional weight added to the diaper but overall it wasn’t as uncomfortable as I thought it would be. Then I waited a few minutes and urinated a little more into the pad. Same sensation as before with the diaper feeling a little heavier with this added liquid. I did not witness any leakage from the diaper and I decided not to go to a third round (if you know what I mean).
I then removed the diaper and wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. I thought of the used diaper container we used to have when my son was a baby and wished we still had it. Instead, I put it in the garbage and hid it under some used tissue so that I didn’t freak out my wife. I then used one of the wipes to cleanse myself and the test was complete.
To sum up my thoughts, I think it is great that disposable underwear exists for anyone suffering with incontinence. It allows for at least some sense of normalcy with less stress associated with not knowing when the next leak will occur.
However, I must admit that, after trying the product, I am hopeful that I never have the need to wear such a product at least in its current form. I’d like to think that new technology will be developed that makes wearing adult diapers more comfortable (or at least less uncomfortable) as the experience with this product wasn’t what I hoped it would be.
My rating: (2 out of 5 stars)
If you have any suggested names to replace adult diapers or any of the other terms used within the incontinence products category, please send them my way. And any ideas for other products, outside of disposable underwear, that you would like me to review would be greatly appreciated. Please send them my way at: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram at @ChiefEvagelist.