What do trampolining, breaking into a sprint and sneezing have in common? If you’re one of the 33 percent of women who experience pelvic floor disorder, the answer is obvious: All of them carry the very big risk of a lil’ leak.
While those muscles can be strengthened with pelvic floor strengthening, like Kegels, and with the help from a pelvic floor physiotherapist, the underwear market is becoming saturated (sorry) with products that offer backup protection.
Over two weeks I test drove four brands—Knix, Confitex, Viita Protection and Dear Kate—and peed just a little bit, just about everywhere: in meetings at work, at the gym and at the grocery store. Did these pee-proof undies hold up to their promise of a leak-free life? Here’s what I learned.
The technology works
The point of this test was to see whether it was worth it for someone like me, who after having a kid found myself with minor leak issues, to ditch my cotton undies and opt for something more high-tech. I’m a long way from being incontinent, but if I forget to Kegel-up before sprinting to catch the bus, or if a sneeze catches me unaware, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll pee, just a bit. And nothing puts a damper on your work day like peeing in the middle of a budget meeting.
During the course of this slightly weird experiment, some unscheduled pees occurred naturally, and others were deliberate (if you’re curious whether it’s possible to be in the middle of a sentence and pee without pausing, it’s not). But all of the underwear I tested handled both the actual pee, and the odour very well.
It does get a bit hot down there
Most pee-proof undies boast about whiz-bang wicking technology that keeps you feeling dry, and this held true for all the brands tested—though it did get hot down there at times. Like, quite hot, especially with the undies that offered heavier protection. Still, it was a small price to pay for letting go wherever and whenever I wanted.
You should still use as directed
Remember the intoxicating euphoria that washed over you the first time you peed in the ocean? That very specific feeling of release that comes when you pee somewhere other than in a bathroom, to absolutely no consequence? It’s kind of the same with pee-proof undies. But not matter how freeing it feels, these products aren’t designed to function as your own personal, portable Great Lake. The amount of pee they are designed to hold varies from brand to brand, but a couple of times during this experiment I decided to swing for the fences, so to speak, just to see what happened. I spent the rest of the day feeling like I was walking around in a wet diaper.
It in no way felt like I had given up on life
When I first heard about pee-proof undies I pictured the comically oversized, over-padded underwear I’d been given at the hospital after my daughter was born. But all these brands were cute, comfortable, and looked much better on than some of my other workhorse undies. (It should be noted that all the underwear I tested were boy-short or full-coverage models. Pee-proof thongs do exist—and I bow down to any woman brave enough to test them.)
They hold up in the wash
All brands held up to cold-water machine washes over the course of testing. (Because really, who has time to wash anything by hand?)
While pee-proof undies are no substitute for strengthening your pelvic floor, having a few pairs to pull out during allergy season, or for when you have a nagging cough, just in case, makes life that much easier. No one brand stood out among the others, but with price points varying from $25 to $50 per pair, it really does just come down to personal preference, and how much you’re willing to spend on a piece of clothing you intend to pee in.
Originally published October 2018; Updated August 2020.