Ever noticed your friends crossing their legs when they cough or sneeze? That’s because the majority of women over 35 occasionally experience the dreaded mid-cough dribble. No surprise there, since it’s one of the most common incontinence-related symptoms reported by women. In fact, a compilation of studies shows that nearly half of all adult women say they have experienced the type of incontinence that causes leakage while coughing.
Whether occasional or frequent, leakage while you cough or sneeze is a form of stress incontinence—urinary incontinence that happens when a physical response puts pressure (stress) on your bladder, causing it to leak. Stress incontinence is also to blame for leakage during all sorts of physical activities and daily movements, from yoga class to playing Twister with your girlfriends.
At MiBladder.com, we’re all here to support you in navigating urinary incontinence at any age. The right incontinence products for women or men can help ensure comfort and dryness during all activities.
Why We Pee When Coughing
There are many reasons why you might start to leak urine while coughing or sneezing, seemingly out of nowhere. For many women, leakage starts after childbirth, while others have chronic cough, obesity, or increased physical activity—like running or lifting weights—to blame for the dribble.
Though different, each of these conditions has a similar effect on the pelvic floor muscles and sphincter, which help to support the bladder and keep urine from emptying at the wrong times. That is: They lead to the loss of muscle strength, leaving those essential pelvic floor and sphincter muscles weak, stretched-out, or damaged.
As a result, when you put even a small amount of pressure on the bladder, leakage is likely because the muscles are not strong enough to stop it. But we can’t just stop coughing for the rest of our lives! So what can we do?
How to Deal with Peeing When Coughing
While stress incontinence is among the most common conditions among women, especially after childbirth and in the perimenopause years, that doesn’t mean you should simply accept it as an inevitable part of aging. There are some things you can do to help keep your stress incontinence from holding you back or causing discomfort throughout the day.
Get Comfortable with Incontinence Products—The first step to effectively managing leaks is to find the right incontinence liners or pads. If your stress incontinence is limited to certain activities or moments, like coughing or running, you can go with a thin, discreet, and lightweight liner that won’t get in your way throughout the day.
Practice Pelvic Floor Exercises—You may also try practicing pelvic floor muscle exercises, such as Kegels. These are simple exercises that involve tightening and releasing the muscles in the pelvis to help them build strength, effectively enhancing your ability to control them so you urinate only when you want to. Shoot for two or three Kegel sessions each day, tightening and contracting the muscles at least 15 times per session.
See Your Physician—If you don’t see good results with pelvic floor strengthening, the next step is to make an appointment with your doctor. This will help you rule out any serious underlying conditions and develop a plan for treating or managing your stress incontinence. In recent years, many cutting-edge treatments have emerged to help people manage urinary incontinence, such as vaginal pessary devices that help support the pelvic organ
Whether it’s a gush or a dribble, a little leakage while coughing or sneezing is nothing that should cause you to feel alarmed or ashamed. Accepting the condition as a common and natural effect of aging will help you approach treatment options with an open mind and talk honestly about your condition with your doctor.
At MiBladder, we want to help destigmatize all forms of urinary incontinence and empower you to deal with it in the way that makes sense for you. From personalized product pairings to expert resources, we’re here to support you every step of the way.