Why do I Pee When I Cough?

Do you ever experience incontinence when you cough or sneeze suddenly? This is a common problem for many women and can be a disruption to day-to-day life. (Not to mention embarrassing!). At UnderX, we hear this complaint from women all the time: I pee when I cough. How can I stop incontinence when coughing? This article will explore why the leaks happen, and a cool trick to avoid them.

elderly women experiencing incontinence while coughing


The most common reason that women experience bladder leakage when they cough is stress incontinence and a weakened pelvic floor. Stress incontinence occurs when urine leaks from the bladder during moments of laughing, sneezing, lifting weights, stress, and coughing. 

When the muscles of the pelvic floor (the hammock-like structure that supports the bladder, among other organs) become weakened, it can make it harder for women to “hold it in” when they have to urinate. Add physical pressure onto that, like a cough, sneeze, or a laugh, and you have a recipe for incontinence.

Stress incontinence is especially common in women due to the many changes that occur to a woman’s body over her lifetime. Things like pregnancy and childbirth, and changing hormones during menopause can all affect the pelvic floor, making it weaker than it used to be.  

Luckily, there are many things you can do to treat stress incontinence. But, an easy trick to stop peeing when you cough or sneeze is an exercise called "Kegels." 


Kegels are a counter-bracing technique that allows you to brace your pelvic floor muscles when you’re about to place pressure on them. Basically, when you feel a laugh, cough, or sneeze coming on, you quickly perform a Kegel contraction and hold it until the moment has passed and your pelvic floor is no longer experiencing so much pressure. This helps control bladder leaks by closing the opening of the urethra. 

If you find that you pee when you cough, laugh, sneeze, or work out, this exercise is for you!


Anyone Who Experiences Bladder Incontinence.

Kegels are a useful exercise for anyone experiencing bladder leaks. If you experience incontinence when laughing, sneezing, or working out, (and yes, if you pee when you cough!) you can probably benefit from kegels.

Women With A Prolapsed Pelvic Organ.

A prolapse is a condition where the pelvic floor has become weakened to the point that it’s unable to support the pelvic floor organs (the bladder, bowel, or uterus). In this state, one or more of the organs collapses into the pelvic canal. There are many different stages of severity of a pelvic organ prolapse ranging from mild to severe, and symptoms can vary widely but may include bladder leaks, or a feeling of pressure or heaviness in the pelvis. Women who experience symptoms from pelvic organ prolapse can use the knack to protect against pressure on the pelvic floor. 


You can do kegels any time you sense pressure coming to your pelvic floor. This may include: 

  • Lifting something from the floor
  • Coughing
  • Standing up
  • Sneezing
  • Working out/lifting
  • Pushing


A Kegel is done any time you anticipate pressure on the pelvic floor. Simply follow these instructions:

  1. When you feel a cough or sneeze coming on, lift and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles.
  2. Contract the muscles for the urethra, vagina, and anus all at once.
  3. Hold the contraction throughout the cough (sneeze, workout, etc.)
  4. Once the pressure has passed (you’ve stopped coughing, sneezing, laughing, etc.) release your pelvic floor muscles and allow them to return to a neutral state.   

Mastering the Kegel exercise can be tricky, and may take some time to get it right. Many women do Kegels incorrectly and activate the wrong muscles. If you find you’re having trouble, consider seeing a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor therapy to help guide you.  

More Incontinence Support

If you suffer from incontinence, we're here to help. Underx was designed with you in mind. We offer incontinence underwear for when Kegels don't work, or just in case! Our superior design and fit are discreet for all-day protection with full confidence. 

We also supply a range of incontinence accessories like skin relief cream and adult disposable washcloths

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