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What Are the Different Types of Incontinence Devices?

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  • Written By: Bill C.
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 07 April 2014
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Types of incontinence devices can be grouped into three main categories based on specific criteria. These include where the devices are worn or applied, the condition for which they are used, and whether they are designed for men or women. Devices are classified as internal or external, depending on whether they are worn inside or outside of the body. Incontinence devices labeled as fecal or urinary describe whether its purpose is to compensate for loss or decrease in either bladder control or bowel control. Male and female devices earn this classification because of designs that take into account the anatomical differences between men and women.

Incontinence is a relatively common medical condition where adults have trouble controlling bladder or bowel movements. Incontinence devices serve to absorb any of these uncontrolled movements.

The most common type of incontinence devices are externally worn absorbent pads and adult diapers that can be used for either bladder or bowel control conditions. Some feature different designs for men and women. Pads and diaper-type devices are typically designed to contain urine and fecal material, prevent the escape of odor, and be easily disposable.

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Two other relatively common types of external incontinence devices are fecal and urinary collection mechanisms. Fecal devices can be worn by either men or women. They consist of small, drainable pouches attached to the rectum with a wafer-like adhesive material. Urinary collection devices are primarily used by men. A pouch or condom-like sleeve with a built-in drainage tube is fitted around the penis, and the tube directs urine to a drainage bag that can be emptied into a toilet.

Internal incontinence devices are typically used only for urinary conditions. They consist of catheters, which can be used by either men or women, and devices whose use is confined to women. Common female devices are urethral inserts and pessaries.

Incontinence catheters are soft tubes inserted in the urethra of either men or women, usually several times daily, to drain the bladder. The urethra is the tube-like membrane through which urine exits the body. Periodic draining is intended to prevent urine from accumulating to the point at which leakage may occur. Incontinence catheters are reusable after cleaning.

Urethral inserts, used only for women and available by prescription, are disposable barriers that prevent urine leakage. They are usually absorbent plugs or tampon-like inserts that are placed inside the urethra. Users remove such devices before urinating and dispose of them.

Pessaries are another incontinence device only available by prescription and for use by women. They are typically used for incontinence caused by a uterus or bladder that has dropped in position. A pessary is a rigid ring that a woman inserts in her vagina and wears all day. The location of the device lifts the dropped bladder or uterus, preventing urine from leaking out.

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