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National Continence Helpline

8am - 8pm Monday to Friday AEST Talk to a continence nurse

Frequently needing to change pads


If the person you support suddenly passes urine and faeces more often than normal, has urgency, smelly or cloudy urine, and needs to have their continence pads changed more often than usual, they need to see their general practitioner (GP) as soon as possible. They may have a urinary tract infection, constipation or urinary retention.

How often should pads be changed?

  • Pads should be changed every 4-6 hours, or as soon as possible after they are wet or soiled.
  • Don't re-use wet pads, as they are likely to deteriorate more quickly and leak.
  • Most people use 4-6 pads a day.

Frequent pad changes

There are many reasons why you may need to change pads more frequently, including:

  • the pad may be the wrong size or absorbency for the amount leakage - refer the person to a continence nurse advisor for a review of their pads
  • constipation - an over-full bowel can press on the bladder, causing the person to pass urine more frequently and more urgently, or have accidents (incontinence)
  • urinary retention - being unable to completely empty the bladder can cause urine leakage
  • physical activity (e.g. heavy lifting) - can cause leakage, or more frequent urine output
  • nocturia- producing more urine at night may mean more pad changes overnight.
  • dementia - people with dementia may forget that their pad was changed and ask for it to be changed again
  • dehydration -  if the person is not drinking enough fluid the urine may be more concentrated, which can sometimes cause more frequent urine leakage
  • some people may focus on needing to go to the toilet and having their pad changed. This could be because they don't have other things to focus on or interest them.

If the person you support needs more frequent pad changes over a long period of time, ask for a review by a health care professional, such as a continence nurse advisor, general practitioner (GP) or a registered nurse.

Need more help? Call the National Continence Helpline on 18OO 33 OO 66 and talk to a continence nurse advisor.

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This information is not a substitute for independent professional advice.