The Problem With Panty Liners
December 16, 2020 8:21 AM   Subscribe

I'm a woman of a certain age who now pees just a teeny weeny little bit with every laugh or cough. It's not enough to wear Depends (yet!). I wear a panty liner, extra long, to help keep me dry. But in the past few months, I've been finding that wearing these panty liners have begun to irritate my nether regions. I'm talking rubbing raw or making me itchy. It's not pretty and it's not comfortable. Suggestions?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

The same companies that sell washable absorbent period underwear sell similar underwear for minor urinary incontinence. Look into those?
posted by LizardBreath at 8:25 AM on December 16, 2020 [15 favorites]

Liners or panties designed for period wear are not good for urinary issues for precisely that reason. Incontinence pads will do a better job of protecting your skin - they are designed to wick urine away and are supposed to be more effective for that purpose.
posted by leslies at 8:41 AM on December 16, 2020 [7 favorites]

If you want to keep using the liners, you could try changing to a fresh one every time it becomes even a little wet. I think the damp liner rubbing against your skin is the problem.
posted by citygirl at 8:48 AM on December 16, 2020

I don't know how true it is, but I was told by a gynecologist that certain brands (Always) seem to have something in them (related to their drying and moisture-wicking properties) that leads to irritation--essentially an allergic reaction--for some of their wearers.
posted by sardonyx at 8:54 AM on December 16, 2020 [7 favorites]

I'm a perimenopausal person with the same problem. I have both the Icon and Speax panties, and have found them both to be very comfortable.

I feel drier in the Icon panties but they are a little bulkier. The Speax panties are more streamlined and feel like normal panties, until they're damp. Then, they're a little squishy.

Con to both of them is that they are expensive, and they only last about two years. Pro is that you don't have to fuck with liners of any kind anymore.
posted by headspace at 9:00 AM on December 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

My first suggestion is that peeing when you sneeze is not a forgone conclusion and it’s not clear from your question whether you’ve tried physical therapy. Please ask your gyn about your options, they have literally heard it all and can recommend a PT professional for pelvic floor strengthening and relaxation exercises that meet yours needs. The sooner you begin PT the sooner you may experience relief and the more likely PT is to be completely successful.

In the meantime and of course possibly in the long term, for incontinence products, definitely get items that are made to handle urine and regular use.
posted by bilabial at 9:02 AM on December 16, 2020 [25 favorites]

There are specific incontinence panty liners - I like the Poise products. Agreed they can be irritating for long term wear - changing them a few times a day seems to help keep them smooth.

I also have some of the Speax underwear and they are comfortable and efficient.

My doctor was concerned when I mentioned the leakage - she suggested I start with kegels and follow up with her if they didn't help. I need an app or something though because I am forgetful about doing these.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 9:05 AM on December 16, 2020

I react badly to the materials (especially adhesive) on commercial pads and liners, and have been very happy since switching to cloth pads and period underwear.
posted by scrubjay at 9:05 AM on December 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

1) Yes, Always brand is notorious for causing irritation. I don’t have urinary incontinence but I am sensitive to pads and have had the best luck with Natracare organic cotton products.
2) I HAD a bit of urinary incontinence but I don’t anymore because my doctor prescribed Vagifem for me. As you age, your urethral sphincter loses plumpness and that’s what causes the leakage. A tiny bit of estrogen can plump it back up and solve the problem completely.
posted by HotToddy at 9:10 AM on December 16, 2020 [6 favorites]

If you are finding you are getting more irritated around your vagina & are of a certain age, you might want to look into vaginal atrophy. Depending on your hormone levels it can lead to being drier down there so more easily irritated, messing up your ph levels so more easily irritated. Something as simple as vaginal moisturizer or ph wash (to restore balance not for douching) might help. I had similar early signs which I ignored which led to much later problems.

You can also look into hormone suppositories for your vagina, which can restore things back to normal & may help with the slight pee leakage too. I can't say enough good things about Vagifem & how it's helped me with a whole bunch of little problems like that I thought were just part of aging.
posted by wwax at 9:33 AM on December 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

I was coming in to suggest kegels too. You might begin starting and stopping your stream of urine when you are peeing. You'll know right away how it goes. And it's an easy to remember time to do it, lol!

Also seconding a visit to your gynecologist. There are lots of options for improving this situation, with medication, exercise or containment or a combo of all three. Having a hysterectomy when I was 40 had the unexpected result of dramatically improving the leakage i had been having. Now, a decade plus later, I do occasionally have a bit of a sprinkle now and again, which makes me start kegeling, which always makes it better. I'm just kind of lazy otherwise I'd get more serious about making the kegels a part of every single day for the rest of my life..they really are effective and easy to learn.
posted by LaBellaStella at 10:08 AM on December 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Disposable pantiliners and pads have become worse and worse in terms of irritation, in my experience.
If/when you’re not especially concerned with an outline potentially being seen through clothes (like, if you’re at home), you can experiment with just using a folded washcloth. Another option is interlabial pads, which should stay put rather than rubbing, which might be less irritating (depending on what’s going on to cause irritation in your case/whether it’s your labia being sore from being rubbed or irritation more immediately around your urethra.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:14 AM on December 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Seconding Speax underwear. They wick the moisture so the layer against your skin stays dry and block odors as well.

You may find you need to give them a 10 minute vinegar soak before washing. I do this every 3rd or so wash cycle to keep them fresh.
posted by ananci at 11:26 AM on December 16, 2020

Strongly recommend consulting with a specialized physical therapist for pelvic floor exercises rather than just jumping into kegels. My PT noted that you need to really assess if your muscles are fatigued from stress and how you are presently able to use them, whether you need to build up strength in specific ways or learn to actually relax the muscles instead, etc.
posted by Paper rabies at 11:47 AM on December 16, 2020 [6 favorites]

Which brand? Always is The Worst. It’s too absorbent. Dries and chafes every time.
Kotex is great, can be worn every day.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:37 PM on December 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Do you also get itchy where you have a band-aid on? I'm wondering if you are getting sensitive to the adhesive. I'd probably cut off a tiny square of pad and stick it on my forearm for awhile to see if there is any redness, itching, or swelling.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:31 PM on December 16, 2020

I have read and can confirm that even mild constipation exacerbates urinary incontinence. For post-menopausal people, it's worse. Bran, plenty of it, and I am able to recognize that I have to pee, and make it to the bathroom. Learning this has been major for me.
posted by theora55 at 3:00 PM on December 16, 2020

I have been periodically incontinent after childbirth, and picked up a box of these washable, cloth panty liners that have worked out pretty well for me. I also use them during lighter period days.
posted by ch3ch2oh at 9:02 PM on December 16, 2020

I'm having the same problem ATM, thanks to a fetus who really loves to punch my bladder. Changing liners frequently makes a big difference for me.

For kegels, it's true that you should be assessed before you start because there are ways of doing them incorrectly that would make your problem worse. If you do go down that path, which I recommend, I used the Squeezy app from the UK's NHS for kegels after the birth of my first. It had simple guided imagery and if you want it will send you reminders. If needed I'll use it again when the second emerges later this winter.
posted by The Librarian at 2:36 AM on December 17, 2020

Have you considered seeing a urologist? I had a bladder sling done, and take two medications to prevent urinary incontinence. I'm told weight loss would help, but half the meds I'm on have weight gain as a side effect, so I'm a little screwed in that regard.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 11:40 PM on December 17, 2020

I have a similar problem from time to time and tried putting on a pair of panties and then putting on a second pair of panties with a panty liner in it. I am willing to sacrifice one pair temporarily to protect my nether regions while I figure out if there’s a longer-term strategy I can use. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 4:39 AM on January 25, 2021

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