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

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? 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.

#1: Childbirth

pregnancy and incontinence

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

active woman incontinence

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.

How To Stop Peeing When I Cough: 4 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 technique that involves urinating at a particular time or during set intervals.

The procedure is intended to train the bladder to release urine only when sitting on the toilet. But this technique may not work for people who only suffer from stress incontinence.

#3: Vaginal Cones

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.

#4: 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.

ONDRwear: Your Trusted Undergarment For Incontinence During Coughing

Stress incontinence is NOTHING to be ashamed of and there are remedies you can follow to either live with it efficiently or stop the symptoms, such as peeing when coughing. 

ONDRwear leak-proof underwear was developed by Dr. Jessica Lubahn, MD. 

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

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!


peeing when coughing