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Men's satisfaction with female/unisex and male incontinence pads: a comparative clinical audit

02 October 2023
Volume 28 · Issue 10



Urinary incontinence is a common and impactful condition. Despite the availability of incontinence pads specifically designed for the male form, many men use pads designed to fit the female anatomy.


This clinical audit-based study compares female/unisex and male incontinence pads in male community patients with urinary incontinence.


A survey was used to collect Likert-scale data on overall satisfaction and satisfaction with specific aspects of female/unisex and male incontinence pads, as well as with their health and wellbeing and situation and attitudes before and after intervention. Qualitative data were collected on positive features of, reasons for dissatisfaction with and suggested changes to each pad.


Among 18 participants, and in all but one domain, satisfaction scores were higher for male pads overall, with the greatest increases in score (1–5) for physical coverage of genital area (1.5), ability to hold urine without leaks (1.4) and level of comfort when wet (1.3). Using a male pad had a positive impact on participants' sense of health and wellbeing. Positive qualitative feedback focused on comfort, ease of use and reliability, as well as the anatomical fit of the male pad.


Sex-specific fit is an important factor in the acceptability of an incontinence pad for men with urinary incontinence. Wearing pads specifically designed for the male anatomy provides men with a greater sense of comfort and confidence.

Urinary incontinence (UI) is a common condition in the UK. A conservative estimate indicates that 5–10% of the UK population (around 7 million people) have UI (Incontinence UK, 2019). The International Continence Society (ICS) (2023) defines UI as the ‘complaint of involuntary loss of urine’. The incidence of UI varies with age and sex: overall, UI affects roughly twice as many women as men, but in older groups men predominate (Incontinence UK, 2019; Yates, 2021). It is estimated that more than 10% of men aged over 65 years experience some degree of UI (Incontinence UK, 2019).

Public information on managing UI from public health services and the wider media is more often aimed at women than men (Stenzelius, 2005; Helfand et al, 2018; Nursing Times, 2019). The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) (2015; 2021) has published specific guidance for the management of UI in women, but guidance for male UI is included in its more general guidance on the management of lower urinary tract symptoms.

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