Glossary of Terms

To help you learn and understand the terms associated with incontinence conditions and treatments, we've complied this helpful list.

Bariatric briefs

Bariatric briefs are ideal products for larger individuals. Disposable bariatric briefs/diapers are made of stretchable and breathable materials that offer maximum comfort and protection. They feature anti-leak leg cuffs to prevent leakage from both urinary and fecal incontinence. Larger leg openings and readjustable tabs also add increased comfort and complete protection against leakage. Shop bariatric briefs.

Belted shields or undergarments

These products combine a pad or liner with a belt or strap that can be worn with or without regular underwear. This is a less bulky alternative to disposable underwear or absorbent briefs. Users who prefer this style of incontinence product often say that these products offer more protection and absorption than an incontinence pad, without the bulkiness of an adult diaper. They may be worn by men or women for incontinence protection. Shop belted undergarments.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)

An enlarged prostate not caused by cancer. BPH can cause problems with urination because the prostate squeezes the urethra at the opening of the bladder.


A means of bladder retraining that uses a sensor placed in the vagina of the female or the anus of a male, connected to a computer or home therapy unit that shows how the muscles of the pelvic floor are contracting and relaxing. Biofeedback enables you to focus on contracting the correct muscles of the pelvic floor as a means of improving continence.


A balloon-shaped organ inside the pelvis that holds urine.

Bladder control pads

These are inserts that secure to underwear with adhesive strips and have absorbent cores to capture urine leakage or accidents. For very light incontinence, pantyliners, or lightweight pads, are often sufficient and are very thin and provide a comfortable fit. They are specifically designed to help manage female incontinence, though some men do use them as they offer more absorbency options than male guards. Shop bladder control pads.

Bladder retraining

Bladder retraining is an education program that teaches you how to restore a normal pattern of urination by setting scheduled trips to the bathroom, with the goal achieving longer time intervals between each trip. Bladder retraining encourages the use of slow, deep breathing to relax and reduce or eliminate the urge and performing five or six rapid intense pelvic muscle contractions (Kegel exercises).

Booster pads

Also called diaper inserts or "diaper doublers". Booster pads are worn inside another absorbent undergarment to increase the absorbency, providing an extra layer of protection. They do not have a waterproof backing, which allows the wetness to flow through the booster pad and into the underlying diaper which prevents leaks from the leg openings. Some have adhesive backing to hold the booster pad securely in place. If one booster pad is not enough, you can “double up” or stack one on top of another to provide a double layer of extra protection. Booster pads may be used by women or men. Shop booster pads.


A tube inserted through the urethra to the bladder in order to drain urine.


The major protein found in tissues, cartilage, and bones. Collagen injections are sometimes used to treat stress urinary incontinence.


The ability to exercise control over urination or a having bowel movement until an appropriate time and place can be found.


Another term for a prolapsed or fallen bladder. When the bladder moves from its normal position down to the pelvic floor, it can cause either urinary leakage or urinary retention.

Disposable diapers

Disposable briefs or diapers are made of highly absorbent materials like cloth or synthetic disposable materials and are thrown away after use. They offer great absorbency with a comfortable, breathable outer layer. Baby and youth diapers, or nappies, are worn by infants, children who are not yet toilet trained or who experience bedwetting. Adult diapers are often used for heavy incontinence, nighttime wetting, and those who need help getting to the bathroom. Nearly all options in the diaper category are unisex design and sized for both male and female users. Shop adult briefs / diapers.

Kegel exercises

Also known as pelvic muscle exercises, these are performed to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor.  These exercises can improve the ability to maintain continence.

Male guards

Designed specifically for men, male guards are cup-shaped to follow the contours of the male body for a snug and secure fit. An adhesive strip secures these incontinence pads for men in place and should be worn with brief style men's underwear. They are best for light to moderate male incontinence. Shop male guards.

Mixed incontinence

Very common and occurs when symptoms of both stress and urgency incontinence are present. Symptoms of one type may be more pronounced than the other.

Neurogenic bladder

Loss of bladder control caused by damage to the nerves controlling the bladder.

Overactive bladder

A condition in which the patient experiences at least two of the following conditions: urinary urgency, urge incontinence, or urinary frequency. (Urinary frequency is defined as urinating more than seven times a day or more than twice at night.)

Pelvic floor muscles

Muscles that support the bladder.


A specially-designed device worn in the vagina to hold the bladder in its correct position and prevent leakage of urine. Pessaries come in many shapes and sizes.

Protective underwear

Protective underwear are pull-on disposable underwear styles, also known as "pull-ups". They “pull-on” like regular underwear and are NOT held in place with tape or Velcro fasteners. This type of incontinence product offers varying degrees of absorbency, moisture wicking capability, and odor control. Users and caregivers both say that pull-on styles of adult underwear are easy to put on, and are easier to remove than tape-on briefs/diapers. Tear-away sides allow easy removal for caregivers, and their full-profile coverage gives a high degree of leak protection. These come in unisex design for both male and female users, but there are also options specifically designed for each sex. Shop protective underwear / pull-ups.


A ring-like band of muscle fibers that closes a natural opening. Tightening the urethral sphincter controls the urge to urinate, as well as prevent loss of urine. Both the anus and the urethra have sphincters, whose muscle tone is key to preventing leakage and maintaining fecal and urinary continence, respectively.

Stress incontinence

Leakage of urine caused by actions such as coughing, laughing, sneezing, running, or lifting that place pressure on the bladder from inside the body.


Underpads provide peace of mind and protection for those with incontinence issues. Disposable underpads are commonly called “chux pads” or “chux” for short because once it was used you could "chuck" it or throw it away. Underpads are rectangular absorbent pads designed to protect beds, chairs, other furniture, and even car seats. They are super absorbent, reduce odors, and control bacteria. Underpads come in a variety of sizes and styles. Some underpads are disposable and some are washable and reusable. Shop underpads.


Tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.


The tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.

Urge incontinence

Leakage as a result of sudden, urgent needs to urinate, as well as frequent urination.

Urodynamic tests

These tests measure the bladder's ability to hold and release urine, showing how your bladder acts when it is filling and emptying.