What's the difference between incontinence products?

Learn about bladder and bowel leak protection product categories

MyLiberty.Life offers you the easiest way to learn about and purchase products and brands to help manage incontinence. We deliver to your home, in discreet packaging, and offer subscriptions, or on-your-schedule delivery of your orders so you don't have to worry about running out.

We deliver a broad assortment of quality incontinence products and brands. Some will be familiar – like Depend or TENA – that you see and hear about on television and magazines. Other products or manufacturers will be new to you - we've sourced options from 20 different brands to make sure you have lots of choice.

MyLiberty.Life has researched all of the available products and chosen the best solutions for a range of incontinence concerns. We created a special guide - our Total Capacity Product Rating Guide – that recommends products based on the absorbency level you need.

A wide range of incontinence product categories

We offer disposable protective underwearpads or liners, adult diapers or briefsswim briefsbed pads and wipes, by the case, delivered to you.

We carry washable containment swim suitschair pads and bed wetting mats pads sold individually.

We also stock baby diapers so that new parents are well supplied with the many, many diapers they will need, delivered right to their door.

My Liberty prides ourselves on offering a full range of sizes so we can help you find the right products - from babies and toddlers, for teens / youth or smaller adults and beyond. Feel free to contact us to help you determine the right size to order.

As you begin to shop for incontinence products, start by thinking of your lifestyle:

  • Are you active or sedentary?
  • What are your day-to-day activities?
  • What types of clothes do you usually wear?
  • Do you participate in sports?
  • Do you wear a lot of white (for example in lawn bowling or cricket)?

Remember - you might want to consider a variety of incontinence products so that you can have several choices to suit your lifestyle.

We'll start with the lightest absorbency or least capacity products.

Disposable Pads, Liners or Guards

Disposable pads are designed for slight - drips and dribbles - of urine during regular activities such as coughing, sneezing, lifting, or working out at the gym.

Often referred to as pads, you'll also see them called panty liners or pads (for women) vs guards or shields (for men). The difference is in the shape; either hour-glass or cup-shaped to target the middle or front of the pad.

Pads, Liners, Guards & Shields for light incontinence protection

Disposable incontinence pads generally have:

  • A waterproof backing
  • A pad containing a gel-forming polymer to absorb fluid more effectively
  • An adhesive strip that is designed to hold the product securely inside your underwear
  • Most are contoured to fit comfortably between your legs
  • Elasticized sides to provide a cupping form
  • They come in several sizes and levels of absorbency

While these products might resemble sanitary napkins that are designed for use during menstruation, the padding and absorbent gel are different.

The padding and gel in sanitary napkins is designed to absorb blood, while those in the incontinence products are designed to absorb urine. The chemistry of blood and urine is different enough to require different products for best performance.

Pads designed for women come in a wide range of absorbency - from slight to overnight, and in different lengths - generally "regular" or "long". Many are individually wrapped for portability, discretion and disposal: 

Women's pads, panty liners for light incontinence protection


Guards and shields for men with mild incontinence are also available.

Men's Guards & Shields for light incontinence protection

Like the pads designed for women, the products for men have an adhesive strip to anchor the product inside snug knitted underwear, a waterproof backing to prevent leakage, and a pad containing gel-forming polymer.

Protective disposable underwear or pull-ups

Disposable, or protective underwear are made with a fibrous “cloth-like” waterproof backing and a built-in absorbent pad containing gel-forming polymer. 

They are designed for mild to moderate levels of urinary or fecal incontinence.

Disposable underwear for resemble ordinary underwear and are starting to be available in different colours.

Manufacturers produce protective disposable underwear with regular - small through XL - and speciality (teens / youth or bariatric) sizing, different levels of absorbency, and increasingly, by gender:

Women's disposable incontinence underwear / pull-ons

Women's disposable incontinence underwear / pull-ons

Men's disposable incontinence underwear / pull-ons

Men's disposable incontinence underwear

Disposable Briefs (Adult Diapers)

Adult diapers, or briefs are designed for moderate to maximum urinary and/or bowel incontinence. They resemble baby diapers, although some have a single tab vs two resfastenable closures on each side:

Disposable adult diapers or briefs

Higher capacity briefs assume they can absorb multiple 'voids' by drawing the liquid down into the core while a top lining layer protects the skin from wetness.

Many of these products offer 'wetness indicators' on the outside material to advise if the product is still dry or if it has reached capacity and needs to be changed.

Today’s incontinence briefs have:

  • Either a “cloth-like” fibrous or "poly" (plastic-backed) waterproof backing
  • Absorbent padding that contains gel-forming polymer

The Good and Bad about Briefs – Make an informed choice

Disposable adult diapers differ in quality in many ways; and the adage “you get what you pay for” is especially appropriate with these products.

Cheap briefs often have a noisy, fragile plastic backing that tears easily. Unreliable tape closures that may come loose if you are active and can't be adjusted without damaging the plastic backing.

Quality adult diapers have a more robust plastic or a noiseless “cloth-like” covering and tabs, or tapes that hold reliably and can be fastened and unfastened repeatedly to facilitate using the toilet.

Bargain briefs also absorb less urine than their more expensive competitors and thus must be changed more often, so you end up using 5+ per day instead of the standard 3 to 4. You'll end up spending money more often.

The capacity difference between lower absorbency vs premium incontinence products is often great enough to make a higher-priced brief less expensive to use because you don’t use as many of them.

Disposable briefs work equally well for men and women and their design offers the advantage of not requiring you to remove your trousers or pants when changing in a public washroom.

    Many people have a strong psychological resistance about wearing adult diapers; thus the reason why these products are called “disposable briefs” instead of “diapers.” That resistance is also the reason why belted undergarments and disposable underwear, which look less like a diaper, were invented.

    However, if your incontinence is great enough to require something more than a pad or shield worn inside your regular underwear, or protective underwear, a high-quality disposable brief will provide more reliable protection for a longer period of time and during a greater range of activity than any other kind of product.

    If you want to get out into the community and lead your normal life, you will find that it’s better to have more protection than you need than to need more protection than you have; and a disposable brief is the most reliable way to get that protection.