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Changing Mindsets on Diaper Wear

by | Mar 20, 2023 | Lifestyle & Wellness, Lifestyle habits

Adults tend to be embarrassed about donning diapers when there is a need for them to do so. If you or your loved ones are in such a situation, we identify with your pain. The perspectives provided in this article can help to bust unhelpful myths about wearing diapers and equip you with the necessary information to set your mind and heart at ease when there is a need to use them.

On one hand, diapers provide a very effective, convenient and hygienic solution for those living with conditions involving incontinence. On the other hand, there is a social stigma surrounding their use, fueled by the myth that only babies and young toddlers who have not been toilet trained need to use them. Further, as the common mental image of diapers are informed by the plasticky, bulky wrap around types, they are frequently thought to be uncomfortable and unflattering to wear.


Wide Applications of Diaper Uses in Adult Situations

In fact, diapers are commonly used in grown-up situations where there is a need to manage challenges and inconveniences in toileting routines.

“Adult Diapers” is the solution of choice for Astronauts who require cutting edge innovative solutions for human waste liquid management in the frontiers of space. NASA developed the Maximum Absorbency Garment (MAG) for such a purpose.

Commonly dubbed the “Space Diapers”, MAGs are bike-shorts type diapers made with super absorbent polymers (SAP) which can take up to 400 times their weight in water. A single MAG can hold up to 2 liters of liquid, allowing an astronaut to last between 8-10 hours before needing a change.

Similarly, fighter jet pilots on long flight missions may choose to wear high absorbency diapers on long haul missions when they do not have access to toileting facilities. Likewise, competitive long-distance runners who do not want to “do it in their pants”, may also rely on incontinence pads or performance diapers to address their toileting woes during an extended run.

Closer to everyday life, commuters in high density areas where toileting facilities are limited or unsanitary, frequently resort to the use of diapers or other incontinence aids on long commutes. These options are also attractive solutions for those on holiday in areas where public toilets are few and sanitation is poor.

More recently in 2020, the Civil Aviation Administration of China recommended the use of disposable adult diapers for flight attendants as a response towards the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic challenge. This measure enables flight attendants to avoid using the inflight lavatories as much as possible, hence reducing the risk of inflight virus transmissions.

From astronauts and pilots in the air to athletes and commuters on the ground, adult diapers enable people in challenging circumstances to manage their toileting needs in an elegant and hygienic fashion. As can be seen, diapers are far from being a “baby thing”. Professional adults in various situations use them to get on with life.


Types of Adult Diapers

With more adults using diapers, manufactures have also improved on the technology and types of offering to provide a more tailored approach for different user needs. We will explore these options moving from the less discreet but more absorbent options, to the more discreet but less absorbent options designed for those who maintain an active lifestyle.


Bed Pads

At the most basic level, using incontinence aids can be as simple as deploying the use of a bed pad. Frequently used in hospitals, these mattress pads are available in different sizes and function like an additional layer of sheets for people to sit or lie on. A cloth-like contact surface provides comfort for the user. The middle layer is made of super absorbent material which will soak up any accidental discharge while a waterproof under-lining prevents soiling of the mattress or any furniture under it.

Bed pads provide the most comfortable solution for persons struggling with incontinence as they are not worn by the users themselves. However, they are not for people who need to be moving about much and they do not prevent soiling of the clothes.



Brief design (or wrap-around) diapers are a category of adult diapers which is very similar to the kind of diapers used for babies. They are designed to be wrapped around the hips and legs of the user and are secured with the help of re-fasten able tabs. This type of diapers is very useful for users who are non-ambulant. Their design makes it easier for care-givers to help put on the diapers while the user is in a lying or seated position. The tabs are also usually adjustable, allowing for a more customized user fit. Note however that they tend to be bulkier as they are intended to hold a fair amount of liquid. Most adult diaper briefs are unisex. Check out their sizing (large or medium) to determine which is a right fit for your needs.



Pull-up diapers function most like undergarments or pants worn beneath your normal clothing. These are designed for the needs of more ambulant adults who are able to change themselves and require an option that allows them to feel comfortable in while going about their daily activities. Pull-ups come in a variety of options depending on the level of absorbency or discreetness desired. High absorbent options will tend to be more bulky and less discreet. These are sometimes marketed as options for “night-time” usage. Pull-ups are also offered in various textures and may have additional features such as odor control and body contouring elements. There are customized fits for both men and women.


Pads & Liners for Women

Pads and liners are among the most discreet options for women, offering light to moderate leak protection while being effectively unnoticeable. They are meant to be worn with your normal undergarments, providing protection for your clothing against those occasional leaks which may cause a fair amount of embarrassment. Between pads and liners, go for the pads if you need a higher level of absorbency.


Guards & Shields for Men

Guards and shields function like pads and liners but are tailored towards the male anatomy. Guards provide a greater amount of leak protection compared with shields.


Booster Strips

Besides the above options, booster strips allow for the option to increase the level of leak protection for your incontinence aid. These are add-on options and are not meant to be used on their own. They may be attached to your brief diapers or other protective undergarments to boost their effectiveness when necessary.


When should you consider to start using Incontinence Aids?

Incontinence aids are important as they prevent involuntary leaks on your clothing or bed, reduce the risk of infections and prevents the development of skin rash arising from extended exposure to discharge waste. They also manage embarrassing odors accompanying leaks.

There is a common perception that adult diapers are only needed for serious conditions when the user is bed ridden and hence unable to manage toileting routines. However, minor and temporary urine leaks are commonly experienced by many people in various situations as well. For instance:

  • Stress incontinence may occur when pressure is exerted on the bladder while carrying heavy items or exercising. Such minor urine leaks can even be experienced by some people when they cough, sneeze or laugh too hard.
  • Urge incontinence is the experience of feeling a sudden intense urge to pee. This urge is accompanied with involuntary urine leaks. Such urges are frequently experienced by people who have diabetes or urinary tract infection
  • Overflow incontinence is experienced when you feel like the bladder is never really empty and there are frequent dribbles of urine leaks.
  • Functional Incontinence refers to situations where a person is unable to get to the toilet in time before losing control of the bladder due to a temporary or permanent loss of certain mental or physical functions. This could be experienced for instance, by people who suffer from mental illness or a fractured hip.

Many women going through pregnancy, childbirth or menopause may experience some of the above symptoms. Similarly, men who suffer from prostate cancer or enlarged prostates will be familiar with these symptoms as well.

If for any reason at all, you have experienced embracing moments of involuntary leaks, or are feeling worried that you might not have access to toileting facilities in time before you loose control, incontinence aids can really be a life saver. Depending on your needs, you may not need to get one that is highly absorbent and bulky. Consider the more discreet options of pad, guards or pull-ups. These can be kept on standby in a bag or an office drawer to spare you from some of life’s most embarrassing moments.


Buying Hack

If you are unsure of what you need, many manufacturers offer free samples for you to discover what works best for you or your loved one before deciding on an aid of choice. If these are not available, start with small packs to explore what best fits your need. Once you have identified the type of diaper and the brand of your choice, buying wholesale in bulk will help manage some costs for long-term users.

About Growing Needs

About Growing Needs

Growing Needs grew out of our own encounters with caring for our aging parents and reflecting on the Growing Needs that we ourselves would face as we advance in years. We hope to build a community that will learn, share and contribute towards caring for the growing needs of our loved ones.

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