Why am I Peeing When Coughing? How To Avoid Embarrassing Leaks

Jessica Lubahn 7 min read

why do I pee when I cough

Do you pee a little every time you cough? 

You might be surprised to find that it’s really quite common. Peeing when coughing is called stress incontinence and can be caused by a variety of factors.

If you’re ready to say goodbye to embarrassing leaks, then you’re in the right place.

We’ll discuss the causes of peeing when coughing and what lifestyle changes you can make to better manage this condition.

Table of Contents


    why do I pee when I cough

    Why Do I Pee When I Cough? 5 Reasons You May Experience Peeing When Coughing

    The number of people who are peeing when coughing, sneezing, or performing other activities such as jumping or laughing may surprise you. 

    This is known as stress incontinence or the loss of bladder control when you have an unexpected release of urine. 

    Urine leaks occur when there is pressure placed on the bladder, which is caused by: 

    • Coughing
    • Sneezing
    • Laughing; or 
    • Exercising 

    The nerves that control the bladder may have weakened and you may benefit from practicing pelvic floor exercises or Kegel exercises to regain some strength. There are also other forms of incontinence, though stress incontinence is the main reason why you’re peeing when coughing. 

    Usually, this type of incontinence happens after you give birth and/or as you age. 

    If you experience peeing when coughing, it is important to consult with your doctor to find out why. Below, we will discuss some common causes that may cause you to pee a little when you cough.


    peeing when I cough

    #1: Childbirth

    As a result, incontinence happens after childbirth, which can last for weeks or months, until your pelvic floor muscles recover. 

    This is the most common cause of peeing when coughing, and 1/3 of women experience this postpartum symptom. During pregnancy and childbirth, your tissues and nerves may get damaged as you deliver your little one. 

    Combine the tissue and nerve damage with the hormonal change, it can weaken your pelvic floor muscles.

    #2: Surgery

    For males, a common factor is surgery, particularly prostate surgery or hysterectomy surgery. This is because either procedure can weaken the sphincter, bladder, and/or urethra.

    Because of these parts of your body weakening, you develop stress incontinence. It’s best to speak with your doctor regarding the side effects of surgery and to immediately contact them for remedies if you experience incontinence during coughing after recovery. 

    #3: Your Bodyweight

    If you struggle with being overweight or having obesity, you may be at a higher risk of stress incontinence. The extra weight increases the pressure that's placed on your abdominal and pelvic organs, particularly the pelvic floor muscles.

    If you are planning to lose weight, you will need to begin following a healthy diet and regularly exercising — especially performing workouts that focus on strengthening your pelvic floor muscles.

    #4: Your Age

    Age often affects the way your body functions and it puts you more at risk for developing serious health conditions or disease. 

    Although age doesn’t directly result in incontinence, it does result in physical and hormonal changes. 

    Because of all these changes, aging weakens your muscles, creating an environment for incontinence to occur. That’s why you need to maintain a healthy diet, exercise, and take any vitamins and supplements that help prevent diseases and the weakening of muscles. 

    #5: High-Impact Activities

    When you perform high-impact activities like running or jumping, it impacts your bladder throughout the years. It may then cause stress incontinence.

    I’m not recommending that you stop high-impact exercises like these completely, but rather lessen it and focus on other strength exercises as well. Pelvic floor exercises are also highly recommended for stress incontinence.


    peeing when coughing

    How To Stop Peeing When I Cough: 6 Ways to Reduce Bladder Leakage

    There are other reasons why you may be peeing when coughing, but we’ve discussed the most common ones. 

    But what can be done to stop peeing when you cough? 

    When you do experience the symptoms, visit a doctor to have it checked and see if it can be remedied. Sometimes, you may have to undergo surgery or make lifestyle changes as it may be a long-term problem. 

    Your doctor may also recommend the following:

    #1: Pelvic Floor Therapy

    Your doctor may recommend Kegel exercises or pelvic floor therapy to strengthen the weakened muscles in the pelvis. Kegel exercises are done by engaging and holding the muscles that stop the release of urine.

    These exercises can be done independently or with the assistance of a pelvic floor therapist who may use biofeedback to help reduce incontinence when coughing. Biofeedback electrically stimulates the muscles during exercise.

    #2: Behavioral Modification Therapy

    In addition to pelvic floor therapy, your doctor may suggest a behavioral modification techniques, such as:

    • Bladder training, which can involve delaying urination for a certain period of time after you feel the urge to go. 
    • Double voiding, which involves urinating and then waiting a few minutes to fully empty the bladder.
    • Scheduled toilet trips, which can involve planning to urinate every 2 to 4 hours.


    peeing when I cough

    #3: Avoiding Certain Foods and Drinks

    Certain foods and drinks can irritate the lining of your bladder or disrupt the nervous system, leading to frequent urination. If you have incontinence, you want to limit your consumption of foods and drinks that can stimulate an overactive bladder, such as alcohol and caffeine.

    On the flipside, some foods and drinks can support bladder health. Click here to read about seven foods you may want to incorporate into your diet to reduce incontinence symptoms, like peeing when coughing.

    #4: Medications

    There are certain medications your doctor may recommend to help alleviate incontinence, such as: 

    • Anticholinergics, which can block chemical messages in the brain that result in involuntary muscle movements in the urinary tract.
    • Alpha blockers, which can help strengthen the bladder sphincter and reduce bladder leakage.
    • Topical Estrogen, which can help restore deteriorating tissue in the urinary tract to relieve incontinence symptoms
    • And more

    #5: Vaginal Pessaries

    Vaginal pessaries can be used for women whose stress incontinence isn’t remedied through pelvic floor therapy or behavioral modifications.

    Vaginal pessary rings prevent urinary leakage by supporting the bladder. Urethral inserts can also be used while playing sports or during intense physical activity.

    #6: Surgery

    If the case is severe, your doctor may recommend surgery to help relieve your stress incontinence. Aimed at helping the urinary muscle or sphincter close properly, the surgery will provide additional bladder support. 

    One of the most common types of surgery for relieving stress incontinence is known as a sling procedure

    During this procedure, a sling is wrapped around the bladder, like a hammock, to help support it. This surgery can be effective for both men and women.


    peeing coughing

    Can’t Stop Peeing When Coughing? ONDWear Has Your Back

    If you experience peeing when coughing, you probably already know that you are not alone. 

    We don’t want to cover up the issue, we want to raise awareness and normalize the conversation. It's happening to more people than you'd expect and you can manage it in many ways!

    As a urologist and mother, Dr. Lubahn has seen firsthand the frustrations of living with stress incontinence and has made it her mission to find a way to eliminate the common embarrassment of peeing when coughing and general incontinence

    That’s why Dr. Lubhan created ONDRwear — a leak-proof underwear designed to withstand incontinence and leave you feeling dry, odor-free, and confident.

    Say goodbye to bulky incontinence pads or moments of panic when a simple daily act, such as coughing, causes you to pee a little. ONDRwear’s lining is designed to feel “barely there” and can comfortably hold up to nine teaspoons of liquid. 

    Experience ONDRwear for yourself! Click “buy now” below to shop our pee proof underwear.


    peeing when I cough

    The content in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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