Caregiving glossary

Glossary of incontinence care terms

If your doctor or pharmacist has used a term that you are not familiar with or you read something on a package that you haven’t seen before, read through our glossary for helpful explanations.

Adult Briefs

TENA® refers to adult “briefs”. They fasten securely with tabs and can be easily removed.

Bladder leakage

Also known as bladder weakness or urinary incontinence. It means a person has difficulty in controlling the bladder. This can result in an involuntary loss of urine.


Here, “briefs” are specially designed to protect against incontinence. TENA® briefs for men, and briefs for women, are ideal for providing care for a loved one. They fasten securely with tabs and can be easily removed. Sometimes called adult diapers, incontinence briefs provide maximum absorbency for heavy incontinence protection.


Enuresis (also known as bedwetting) is the involuntary loss of urine in bed. When it occurs during sleep at night it is referred to as nocturnal enuresis.

Fecal incontinence

This type of incontinence is the involuntary passage of feces.

Functional incontinence

This is an inability to reach the bathroom in time because of the difficulties caused by physical or mental impairment. 


These are incontinence pads designed specifically for men. TENA® guards are cup-shaped to follow the contours of the male body for a snug and secure fit. An adhesive strip secures them in place. They should be worn with brief-style men's underwear. Best for light-to-moderate male incontinence.


The involuntary loss of bladder and/or bowel function.


The stage that marks the permanent cessation of menstrual activity.


The act of urinating (voiding or passing urine).

Mixed incontinence

Quite literally, this involves mixed symptoms. Usually it’s a combination of stress incontinence (see below) and urge incontinence (see below). If you happen to have both types, there’s usually one that causes more of a problem than the other. If that’s the case with you, focus on dealing with the most frequent symptom first.

Neurological bladder disorders

Damage to the nerves as a result of illness can affect the way the brain and bladder communicate. This results in an inability to control the bladder or empty it completely.

Overflow incontinence

This is a constant or episodic flow of urine, usually caused by an obstruction or nerve damage. Overflow urinary incontinence occurs when the bladder cannot empty completely, and then gets filled with residual urine.

Pad & Underwear system

2-piece incontinence pad-and-pant-system products are designed to be worn together. The pads provide a more discreet, body-close fit when worn with TENA® incontinence underwear, which are reusable and disposable. They’re for medium-to-heavy incontinence protection.


Designed for very light to heavy bladder leakage and female incontinence needs. Most TENA® pads are individually wrapped and have an adhesive strip to wear with regular underwear.


Also called liners, these are the smallest and thinnest type of pad available. TENA® incontinence liners are designed for very light bladder leakage protection and everyday freshness.

Pelvic floor exercises

They are exercises involving contraction and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles. They’re aimed at strengthening the muscles and enabling increased urethral closure pressure.

Pelvic muscles

The pelvic floor muscles form a broad sling between your legs, from the pubic bone in front to the base of your spine at the back. To be able to stay continent we need support from the pelvic floor muscles. These important muscles assist in urinary and fecal continence.

Post-micturition dribble

This is when the bladder (urethra) doesn’t empty completely and continues to leak after urinating. This is also common with weakened pelvic floor muscles.


A gland in men that is located at the base of the bladder and surrounds the urethra. It produces a fluid at ejaculation. Sometimes in older men, the gland grows larger and obstructs the urine tube. A symptom of this is a poor stream of urine.

Stress incontinence

Incontinence that occurs with a sudden physical exertion such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercise or heavy lifting. It usually only involves small amounts of urine and is generally connected to a weakening of the pelvic floor muscles.

Ultra thins

TENA® Ultra Thin pads are specially designed for discretion. They have a thinner profile, yet can provide the same amount of protection as regular incontinence pads.


Underpads, sometimes called bed pads, are large absorbent pads. They are designed to protect the surfaces where you might sit or lie down, such as beds, chairs and furniture. TENA® Underpads come in a variety of sizes and styles.


We use the word underwear to mean incontinence underwear for men and women. TENA® underwear products are designed to pull on and off and worn like regular underwear. They provide moderate-to-heavy incontinence protection.

Urge incontinence

Also known as an overactive bladder with urinary leakage, this is the most common type for men. You experience a sudden urge to urinate and the bladder involuntarily expels urine. The urgency feeling can make it hard to make it to the bathroom in time. It can result in small, frequent losses between micturitions or complete bladder emptying. Different factors can cause this, such as an enlarged prostate, urinary tract infection, consumption of coffee or energy drinks, bladder stones, fragile post-menopausal mucous, gynecological conditions such as prolapse or ovarian tumor, and constipation.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Urinary Tract Infections are caused by bacteria getting into the urinary tract. A lower urinary tract infection is located in the urethra and bladder. If left untreated it can spread through the ureters to one or both kidneys.  This type of infection is known as an Upper UTI. 


TENA® incontinence wipes and washcloths are specially sized for adults. They are used to gently clean and soothe the skin.