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The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

New sustainable technologies, support tools and standards have improved the lives of people with incontinence

Globally, more than 200 million people with incontinence depend on technology to manage their condition. Research by the School of Health Sciences’ Bladder & Bowel Management Group has increased user confidence in continence product choice, enhanced access to continence products, provided sustainable options for intermittent catheter users and improved options for convenient, safe use of male incontinence devices.



People rely on continence products and devices to contain leakage , and it can be challenging to identify and access products that meet their physical and lifestyle needs. Single-use products e.g. pads and  catheters, have become ‘the norm’ despite their significant environmental impact.

Research challenge

Working with product users and carers, the Bladder & Bowel Management Group led by Professor Mandy Fader has used clinical trials and decision aid methodology, qualitative and experimental methods to co-design and develop sustainable technologies to improve the quality of life of people living with incontinence.

The ‘Continence Product Advisor’ website

Developed by the UoS team in collaboration with the International Continence Society (ICS), Continence Product Advisor (CPA) is the first evidence-based, comprehensive and independent multimedia resource for patients and clinicians to support continence product selection and use. It is the only evidence-based continence product resource listed on with more than one million visits by people worldwide.

The CPA is the core product component of a massive open online course (MOOC), Understanding Continence Promotion, launched by the Association for Continence Advice in 2019. It has trained more than 900 people from 73 countries, and 100% of responders to a post-course survey have reported gaining knowledge or skills.

International standards

Professor Fader led an international group of experts to develop standardised terminology for absorbent products to avoid confusion between different terms for products, and better reflect current product design.

The outcome was  new ICS recommended terminology for all designs of single use absorbent products which directly influenced terminology adopted by the International Organization for Standardization.

Fader was subsequently invited by the World Health Organization  to develop assistive product specifications for disposable and washable absorbent continence products. They are used by government procurement officers to guide tendering processes and inform the UNICEF catalogue.

Sustainable, reusable, and effective options for intermittent catheter users

In order to reduce the use of single use plastics, the UoS team developed and tested the MultiCath Milton cleaning method for intermittent catheters. This was essential in enabling the first reusable and biodegradable intermittent catheter, the EmtevaTM from Hunter Urology, to become CE marked for sale in the EU and available for patients via the UK drug tariff.

If one Emteva is substituted for all daily catheterisations, this equates to an annual saving for all female intermittent catheter users in the UK of more than £32m and a 100% reduction in plastic catheters being thrown away.

Around 36,000 Emteva catheters have been prescribed in England alone since 2016 benefitting approximately 9,000 women; they are also sold internationally, including in Denmark and Australia.

Development of the ‘Southampton clamp’

The UoS group, together with clamp users, co-designed a new clamp that is more effective, more comfortable, less painful, and easier to use than existing designs. The ‘Southampton clamp’ provides a reusable – and therefore sustainable – discreet and secure way of preventing leakage after prostatectomy.

A new industry partner will support prototype development, licensing (CE marking) and commercialisation of the clamp (and other newly developed products) via internet sales and the Drug Tariff.

Associated project

Incontinence devices

Key Publications

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