Getting the Best Fit and Measuring for Adult Incontinence Products - Adult Diapers and Pull-Ons

Measuring tape around waist

No one likes the feeling of something not fitting correctly, especially when it comes to personal care products and absorbent undergarments like tab-style briefs and protective underwear.

Finding an adult diaper and/or pull-on with the right features to ensure a good fit to stop leaking urine is essential. Whether seeking help for bowel or urinary incontinence for yourself or someone else, measuring correctly for the right incontinence product is key.

We'll explain helpful product tips and features to look out for to find the best fitting, reliable product for you or your loved one's needs.

Common Myths

  • Bigger Means Better - A lot of people think that the bigger the product, the more absorbent it will be. Adult diapers, pull-ons, liners and pads are designed to manage specific capacity levels and types of incontinence. No matter the size – extra small to 3XL – a product that features high absorbency can handle heavy voids while keeping users dry and comfortable. Well-made products have technology that pulls liquid away from the skin, known as "wicking," which keeps the skin dry and helps control odors. 

  • Loose is Okay - It’s common knowledge that liquid finds the path of least resistance. If the leg area of a product is not snug enough, the flow of urine can leak through the gaps. The best incontinence products pay close attention to the leg opening areas. A simple way to ensure a secure fit is to run a finger lightly underneath the elastic around both legs. If the opening is snug – not too loose or overly tight – it usually indicates a comfortable and leak-free fit.

  • Double Up - If you or a person you are caring for is managing incontinence, you or they may be doubling up on products for extra protection. This is not always the best solution. Using just a pad or liner is helpful for light incontinence or what some call “stress incontinence.” Liners and pads are designed with a waterproof backing that secures to regular underwear with an adhesive strip. But when doubling up on pads, adult diapers or pull-up style underwear, the backing can cause added leakage.

    Senior mother with her daughter

Size Matters

Size is one of the most important things to consider in choosing an absorbent product. Many briefs are measured using waist and hip sizes but brands differ when taking a closer look at individual sizing charts. For instance, a small Supreme Tab-Style Brief fits waists between 22-32 inches, whereas a small MEGAMAX Tab-Style Brief fits waists 24-34 inches. It's always best to measure before making a purchase.

Getting the Best Fit and Measuring for Adult Incontinence Products Measuring Chart

Measuring Tips

  • Get a tape measure

  • Determine what is most comfortable - standing or lying down

  • Measure both the waist and hips to the nearest half-inch

  • Products that are too large tend to leak at the legs, so start with a smaller size and work up

  • Always re-measure whenever there is significant weight gain or loss

What To Do If ... 

  • Leg Cuffs are Loose - If there is looseness or gaps around the legs, particularly when laying down, consider another product or size to avoid leaks. Trying a sample first can help determine if a product provides the coverage needed.

  • Sides Split and/or Tabs Come Undone - If the sides split open or tabs come undone, consider a larger size. If the product has tabs, try readjusting the tabs to fit more comfortably. Note that plastic-backed briefs are not refastenable more than once unless they have a landing zone.

  • Sagging Waist - Consider a smaller size or a snug-fitting, waterproof cover to contain leakage if changing sizes is not an option.

  • Restricted Movement - Is movement restricted ... in the waist? legs? other areas? Products should fit closely against the body without causing discomfort. If frequent changes are needed, consider a higher-absorbency product or add a booster pad to increase absorbency if switching products is not an option.

    Senior man at doctors appointment

Each person's incontinence needs are unique and finding the right product and size may take time. Always seek the medical advice of a professional for help and assistance with medical conditions, including nocturnal enuresis, urge incontinence, overactive bladder, bladder muscle control issues and uncontrollable urges to urinate.

At NorthShore.com, individuals managing incontinence have a choice of premium, high-absorbency products and supplies to manage different types of bowel and urinary incontinence. From adult diapers and pull-ons to pads and liners, identifying items that provide the most coverage and best fit are important.

For questions regarding products and sizing, call the Customer Care & Service team at (800) 563-0161 or visit our Incontinence Product Page for more information.

We're always happy to help!