Misconceptions about diaper sizes and Types of adult diapers

Misconceptions about diaper sizes

Before we move on to finding the right size of adult diapers and features to consider, there are two curious myths about diaper sizes that we want to bust.

1. Bigger is more absorbent.

Just because a diaper is larger, this doesn’t mean it has more absorbency. Like with women’s sanitary pads, there are a variety of absorbency levels. It’s good to remember that absorbency is a feature, not a size. In most cases, choosing a size that’s too big for you will actually cause leaks.

2. They are only used by men.

Adult diapers are used by both men and women, and most brands have both unisex and gender-specific diapers in their product line.

Types of adult diapers

Adult diaper features alter from brand to brand, but here are some of the basics to look out for:

Diaper or tab-style“briefs”

Briefs are one of the most common types of adult diapers. They have various features and functions to suit all types of incontinence, but the main one that sets them apart is having an opening at either side and tabs that fasten in the front.

Diaper briefs usually have either tabs or full side fastening.


Usually, tabs are placed around the sides to fit around the waist of the wearer. Briefs with tabs tend to give more flexibility in sizing, as you can loosen or tighten based on the individual.

Some adult diapers offer refastenable tabs for multiple adjustments. But cheaper products tend to have a “one and done” approach, which can make them less reliable if you need to change the fit.

Full side fastening

Full side fastening allows flexibility of fit around the legs. In essence, it’s a multiple tab approach (for cloth adult diapers) that fastens the entire side of the diaper.

Bariatric briefs

These have the same adjustable features but are catered to plus-sized individuals. This does affect the size, fit, and shape of the diaper with wider leg holes, and more expansion on the waist.

Pull-up diapers

This is a more “traditional underwear” style and is better suited for those with full mobility. If you get the right size in pull-up diapers, they tend to be more reliable and feel more secure. If you get your size wrong, however, you’re likely to experience leakage and discomfort.

Sure Care Protective Underwear protects against heavy incontinence and feels just like regular underwear.


Brief diapers are made of different backing materials, depending on the type and absorbency. Some are made of cloth, while others are made of plastic. A cloth backing is more comfortable and ensures more discretion when worn. These are more breathable and provide added skin protection.

Typically, we would not recommend using a plastic-backed option. These lock the moisture and vapors from incontinence inside the product and often lead to skin irritation and even damage. Many cloth diapers have advanced polymers in the core, making them an ideal choice for either urine or bowel incontinence.

If you are experiencing bowel incontinence, it’s best to go with a tab-style or brief option rather than a pull-up. These tend to have a larger absorbent pad in the rear, whereas pull-ups only have absorbency in the core.

OPTIONAL READ: Traveling with Bowel Incontinence

Leg gathers

Some adult diapers have leg gathers, or “leg guards,” to provide a better fit and protect against leakage. These are strips of fabric around the legs that tend to be elastic and stretchy. They fit snugly against the skin, providing an additional barrier against incontinence leakage.

Odor Guards and Advanced Polymers

Diapers with odor removal or fragrances can be ideal for those who want discretion while wearing their diaper all day. These are typically referred to as an “odor guard,” or “advanced odor guarding polymers.” Cloth-backed and breathable diapers tend to prevent bacterial growth as well, which protects against infections, such as thrush.

Note: With all chemicals and fragrances, there is a chance you could have a reaction. Diapers are worn close to sensitive skin areas, so please make sure to start with a trial wear or patch test before buying in bulk.

How do diaper sizes work?

Much like clothing, there’s a bit of math involved in diaper sizing. Different brands and features may fit differently, even if they have the same size.

For example, extra absorbency and contouring might make your normal size feel slightly smaller. The best starting point is to get an accurate measurement of your size.

How to measure yourself for the right diaper size

The main measurements you need for most adult diaper sizes are:

  • Waist
  • Hip

But for some brands, features, and types you may also need:

  • Your leg measurement
  • Your weight

To take accurate measurements you should:

  1. Measure the width of your waist, just below the belly button.
  2. Measure the widest part of your hips.
  3. Measure your thigh, between your knee and pelvis.

Top Tip: Make sure you relax your muscles when measuring. It can move your waist and leg measurements by over an inch!

Most diaper manufacturers provide “brackets.” For example, a 34” – 38” waist size. If this is the case, use the highest number you measured and compare this to the diaper size guide you’re using.

What if you’re struggling to measure yourself?

If measuring yourself isn’t possible due to mobility issues or otherwise, the next best option is to try the product for yourself and see how it feels. Many of our products feature a height and weight chart, so selecting one of those products may be a good way to gauge your general size.

Selecting the best diaper size for your body

The truth is, even with your body measurements, sometimes the differences in body shapes can lead to some discrepancies in size. If you have a larger belly or very thin legs, you may need to go up or down a size accordingly.

If you’re struggling to find a great size for your body type, you can:

Choose your diaper size by weight. This can be useful if you experience leaks, despite wearing what should be the right size. Shop by weight to buy plus-size briefs, and you may find that the diaper absorbency is more effective.

Buy gender-specific diapers. Some brands offer gender-specific options with different measurements. These can be better at preventing leaks and providing comfort since it takes into consideration the physical differences between genders.

Add in “capacity.” If you need a larger size to fit your waist, but you have thinner legs and are experiencing leaks from the leg holes, you can always add in a booster pad for absorbency where you need it most. Booster pads can be placed anywhere in the diaper, so you can add some extra padding around the leg holes if needed. Listen to your body. If you’re experiencing tightness, rashes, or itching you likely want to go up a size, even if the sizing chart indicates that you’re in the right fit. If you’re leaking or are fastening tabs all the way over your belly, it’s best to go down a size.

Thanks for reading!

Post time: Dec-21-2021